ISO 14001 - Terms and Definitions


person with the competence to conduct an audit

Continual Improvement

recurring process of enhancing the Environmental Management System in order to achieve improvements in overall environmental performance consistent with the organization's environmental policy

Note: The process need not take place in all areas of activity simultaneously.

Corrective Action

action to eliminate the cause of a detected nonconformity


information and its supporting medium

Note: The medium can be paper, magnetic, electronic or optical computer disc, photograph or master sample, or a combination thereof.


surroundings in which an organization (3.16) operates, including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans, and their interrelation

Note: Surroundings in this context extend from within an organization (3.16) to the global system.

Environmental Aspect

element of an organization's (3.16) activities or products or services that can interact with the environment (3.5)

Note: A significant environmental aspect has or can have a significant environmental impact (3.7).

Environmental Impact

any change to the environment (3.5), whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organization's (3.16) environmental aspects (3.6)

Environmental Management System

EMS part of an organization's (3.16) management system used to develop and implement its environmental policy (3.11) and manage its environmental aspects (3.6)

Note 1: A management system is a set of interrelated elements used to establish policy and objectives and to achieve those objectives.

Note 2: A management system includes organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures (3.19), processes and resources.

Environmental Objective

overall environmental goal, consistent with the environmental policy (3.11), that an organization (3.16) sets itself to achieve

Environmental Performance

measurable results of an organization's (3.16) management of its environmental aspects (3.6)

Note:In the context of environmental management systems (3.8), results can be measured against the organization's (3.16) environmental policy (3.11), environmental objectives (3.9), environmental targets (3.12) and other environmental performance requirements.

Environmental Policy

overall intentions and direction of an organization (3.16) related to its environmental performance (3.10) as formally expressed by top management

Note:The environmental policy provides a framework for action and for the setting of environmental objectives (3.9) and environmental targets (3.12).

Environmental Target

detailed performance requirement, applicable to the organization (3.16) or parts thereof, that arises from the environmental objectives (3.9) and that needs to be set and met in order to achieve those objectives

Interested Party

person or group concerned with or affected by the environmental performance (3.10) of an organization (3.16)

Internal Audit

systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the environmental management system audit criteria set by the organization (3.16) are fulfilled

Note: In many cases, particularly in smaller organizations, independence can be demonstrated by the freedom from responsibility for the activity being audited.


non-fulfilment of a requirement


company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private, that has its own functions and administration

Note: For organizations with more than one operating unit, a single operating unit may be defined as an organization.

Preventive action

action to eliminate the cause of a potential nonconformity (3.15)

Prevention of pollution

use of processes, practices, techniques, materials, products, services or energy to avoid, reduce or control (separately or in combination) the creation, emission or discharge of any type of pollutant or waste, in order to reduce adverse environmental impacts (3.7)

Note: Prevention of pollution can include source reduction or elimination, process, product or service changes, efficient use of resources, material and energy substitution, reuse, recovery, recycling, reclamation and treatment.


specified way to carry out an activity or a process

Note: Procedures can be documented or not.


document (3.4) stating results achieved or providing evidence of activities performed