Context review for reporting to the board of directors

Summary

As part of the company’s continuous improvement process, EEM was asked to review and suggest improvements to the internal environmental reports sent to the Board of Directors on a quarterly basis.

Approach and Solution

Before internal reporting could be reviewed, it was important to understand the context in which the company was operating to make sure that the significant environmental issues were adequately covered in the report.

One of the strengths of the company is its ISO 14001 management system used to support its mission and environmental policy. The release of a new edition of the standard in September 2015 (ISO 14001:2015) provided a second reason to conduct a larger review of environmental issues since the standard now requires the organisation to better understand its operational context.

Specifically, clause 4.1 reads “The organisation must determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that affect its ability to achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system… including environmental conditions being affected by or capable of affecting the organization”.

Furthermore, in ISO 14001:2015, the needs and expectations of interested parties must be understood and incorporated into the management system as appropriate. Both these exercises inform the definition of the scope of the Environmental management System (EMS).

EEM proceeded with a review of:

  • the company’s public environmental position statements;
  • the scope of EMS;
  • the company’s corporate governance structure, internal reporting structure and public disclosure requirements;
  • its principal activities, functions and services;
  • potential material environmental aspects, as well as risks and opportunities;
  • information that top management needs in order to make informed decisions;
  • public reporting practices in the same industry; and
  • reporting practices in other organizations.

Results

Using the information from the context analysis, EEM reviewed the format and the topics covered by the current report to the Board of Directors and proposed a revised format.

The context review undertaken was also considered essential to the confirmation of the EMS scope under ISO14001: 2015 and to improve management of a wider range of environmental issues, risks and opportunities.

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