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Interested Parties from an Energy/Environmental Perspective

24 July 2019
One of the new clauses added into all of the Annex SL based standards refers to ‘Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties’ (clause 4.2). In many cases, clause 4.1 covering context will facilitate the identification of interested parties, their needs and relevant expectations. 

If interested parties and their requirements are not fully identified there is a danger of not meeting or at best falling short of their expectations.   

ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 50001:2018 both define an interested party as:

“a person or organization that can affect, be affected by,
or perceive themselves to 
be affected
by a decision or activity”

I would like to suggest that the scope of the management system - whether environmental, energy or combined, could be described quite simply as:

Who are your interested parties, and why do they care?

Different people are interested in your management system as well as your environmental or energy impact for various different reasons, and thinking about these when you are identifying the interested parties and determining their needs and expectations can be helpful.

The standards at this stage tend to suggest that what is required is a general high-level understanding of the expressed needs and expectations of those internal and external interested parties that an organization has chosen to be relevant. These then become the starting point for fully determining compliance obligations. In other words working out the details of what is exactly expected and how it will be fulfilled.

Generally, in most cases, these obligations are voluntary - you can choose which you respond to. There is, however one notable exception to this - and each standard handles it slightly different. However, whichever way it is managed, it will fully meet the requirements of both standards.  

I am of course talking about legislative requirements. ISO 14001:2015 refers to these along with all the other ‘compliance obligations’ and has its own clause, whereas ISO 50001:2018 has retained the more traditional term ‘legal requirements’ and includes it in the section covering interested parties. This reinforces the view that legal requirements that we have to comply with are still the requirements of an interested party, in this case the relevant regulator.

So, how might we go about decided who and what we need to include, from an energy or environmental perspective?

Each organization will have its own interested parties and within any certified management system, you need to be clear which are relevant.  

Organizations will have a number of influences and each will have a varying impact on them. For example, a supplier/manufacturer can significantly affect the ability to provide an environmentally friendly product or service. In this case a clear product/supplier approval process needs to be established to ensure environmental risks, opportunities and the product life cycle are considered.

STEP 1 - Identify the list of interested parties relevant to your organization.

  • Who might they be?
  • Internal/external?
  • Legal requirement or voluntary?

STEP 2 - Identify relevant responsible person within your organization for each interested party.

  • What is their relationship - does it relate to energy or environment?
  • Where do they work?
  • How is that relationship currently managed?

STEP 3 - Identify needs & expectations of these interested parties based on their requirements, experience, interview, survey, etc.

  • What is it actually that is key about that relationship?
  • What are the expectations - in either direction?
  • What happens when things go wrong?
  • What is the current relationship like?

STEP 4 - Establish controls within your management system and review & monitor these controls (or action plan) at a regular intervals.

  • How is it currently controlled?
  • Do you consider those controls satisfactory?
  • How often do you wish to review the controls and/or the relationship?

Compliance Obligations

Moving on from here an organization needs to determine, at a sufficiently detailed level, the compliance obligations it identified in clause 4.2 that are applicable to its environmental aspects or energy uses, and how they apply to the organization.

Compliance obligations include legal requirements that an organization has to comply with any other requirements that the organization has to or chooses to comply with. Mandatory legal requirements related to an organization’s environmental aspects can include, if applicable:

  • requirements from government entities or other relevant authorities;
  • international, national and local laws and regulations;
  • requirements specified in permits, licenses or other forms of authorization;
  • orders, rules or guidance from regulatory agencies;
  • judgments of courts or administrative tribunals.

Compliance obligations also include other interested party requirements related to its environmental/energy management system which the organization has to or chooses to adopt. These can include, if applicable:

  • agreements with community groups or non-governmental organizations;
  • agreements with public authorities or customers;
  • organizational requirements;
  • voluntary principles or codes of practice;
  • voluntary labelling or environmental/energy commitments;
  • obligations arising under contractual arrangements with the organization;
  • relevant organizational or industry standards.


As you can see - needs of interested parties, into compliance obligations (or legal requirements in ISO 50001) forms a small process, particularly if you move on into evaluation of compliance which I will cover at a later date.

Authored by: Richard Walsh, NQA UK Principal Energy & Environment Assessor