Procedure for Determining Context of the Organization and Interested Parties

by Nick T

The Procedure for Determining the Context of the Organization and Interested Parties can help top management identify, document, and understand the relevant internal and external issues that are important to the organization. Top management needs to be aware of the organization’s context and the interests and expectations of relevant interested parties to develop a successful environmental management system (EMS).
The procedure should be reviewed periodically, and as the organization’s context or the interests and expectations of relevant interested parties change, the system should be updated accordingly. The Procedure for Determining the Context of the Organization and Interested Parties can be used by any organization, regardless of size, type, or sector.

Organization context and interested parties

Importance of determining an organization’s context

There are a few reasons why it is essential to determine the organization’s context.

  • It allows the organization to identify the external and internal issues that could affect its ability to achieve its environmental objectives. This information is essential because it can help the organization prioritize which topics must be addressed first.
  • Determining context can help the organization develop more effective environmental objectives. Objectives not aligned with the organization’s context are less likely to be achieved.
  • Determining context can help ensure that the ISO 14001 implementation process is tailored to the organization’s specific needs.

Determining context while implementing an Environment management system

When planning to implement an environmental management system (EMS), one of the first steps is to understand the context of your organization and identify the interested parties who may be affected by your operations.
The interested parties can be internal or external to your organization. They can also be directly or indirectly affected by your EMS. The context of your organization includes the products or services you offer, your location, the markets you serve, and your organizational structure.
To determine the context of your organization, you need to consider the following:

  • Your organizational structure
  • Your products and services
  • Your customers and suppliers
  • Your location
  • Your legal and regulatory requirements
  • Your external environment

After you have determined the context of your organization, you can identify the interested parties who may be affected by your operations. These interested parties can be divided into three categories:

  • Regulatory agencies
  • Environmental organizations
  • Local community groups

Steps to determine the context of the organization and interested parties

Organization context, interested parties
  1. Establish the internal and external issues relevant to your organization's purpose and strategic direction- To determine the context of your organization, you must first identify the internal and external issues relevant to its purpose and strategic direction. These issues include environmental regulations, market pressures, economic conditions, social trends, and technological advances.
  2. Identify the parties relevant to your environmental management system- The interested parties to your ISO 14001 environmental management system can include employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, local communities, and environmental groups. You must identify these parties and their specific interests in your EMS to manage your environmental responsibilities effectively.
  3. Evaluate the potential impact of the identified issues on your organization- Once you have identified the relevant internal and external problems, you must evaluate the potential impact on your organization. This evaluation will help you determine which issues are most important to address in your EMS.
  4. Review the context of your organization periodically to ensure that it remains relevant- Your organization's context will change over time, so it is essential to review it periodically to ensure that it remains relevant. This will help you keep your EMS up-to-date and responsive to your organization's changing needs.

Organization’s context in developing an EMS

This blog post will look closely at the requirement to consider the organization’s context when developing an EMS by ISO 14001:2015. One of the most significant changes in ISO 14001:2015 is the requirement for organizations to assess their “context” when developing their Environmental Management System (EMS). The context of an organization includes the internal and external factors that can influence its environmental management system.
Among other things, external factors may consist of the following:

  • Legislative and regulatory requirements
  • Economic conditions
  • Societal expectations
  • Competitor actions
  • Natural environmental conditions

Internal elements may consist of, but are not limited to:

  • The organization’s culture, values, and structure
  • Its processes, products, and services
  • The resources available to it
  • Its strengths and weaknesses.

Instructions to use the template

All yellow indicated numbers need action to be taken. Below are details

1. Provide the Revision History of the document

  • Revision Number: in the order of 00,01,02, etc.
  • Date: Revision Date of Document in dd-mmm-yyyy. 
  • Prepared By: Name of the person who prepared the document
  • Reviewed By: Name of the person who scanned the document after revision
  • Approved By: Name of the person who approved the document after revision
  • Description: Describe the revision

2. Insert Company Name
3. Insert either MR or Any Designated Officer by the organization
4. Fill the Context of the organization table

  • Type of Issue – Write either Internal or External as per the issue
  • Issue Type – Write the issue concerning the type of issue selected. If the kind of issue chosen is Internal, then the problem can be the organization's performance about EMS Objectives.
  • Impact – Provide the effect the issue can have on the organization, as in the example provided above. It can be the regulatory impact or losing a customer base
  • Control – Control measures are provided to keep the impact listed under check, such as, for the above example, it can be monthly monitoring and review with top management.

5. Fill the Needs and Expectations for Interested Parties Assessment

  • Category - Write either Internal or External
  • Interested Party – Provide the interested party's name, such as Workers, managers, etc.
  • Needs – List the requirements of the interested party, such as workers, that will comply with environmental rules.
  • Expectations – List the expectations of the interested party, such as for workers, it may be providing training and awareness on Environmental practices
  • Control – List the control in place to ensure the needs and expectations of the interested party are met, such as ensuring the training calendar is reviewed for adherence, etc.