ISO 14001 requires that organisations develop environmental objectives and targets and management programmes.  Objectives and targets tend to be set after the environmental policy is completed. In fact it is very important they are completed at this stage as they must be based on policy commitments.

There is an important difference between environmental objectives and targets that we need to consider:

  • Environmental Objectives – directly link to a policy commitment and are broad goals that usually do not consist of a quantity or a timescale.
  • Environmental Targets – these directly link to an environmental objective and are commonly SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound).

Each policy commitment is generally supported by at least one environmental objective. There is no specific number of objectives and targets required for an organisation to be successfully certified to ISO 14001.

Objectives and Target Criteria

It is suggested (although not mandatory) that environmental objectives and targets are set for the following:

  • Environmental legal and other requirements
  • Significant environmental aspects
  • Technological option
  • Financial operational and business requirements
  • Views of interested parties

Types of Objectives

Objectives can be classed as one of the following:

Monitoring objective – these are set where the management of a significant environmental impact could be improved and financial resources are limited or where not enough information is known about it. Environmental objectives can therefore be set to monitor (so enabling quantification).

Management objective – where a significant environmental impact is being well managed  they will be set so as to continue the good practice, for example ensuring that an environmental training programme is continued.

Improvement objectives – these are associated directly with improvement and will always be required if the organisation is to demonstrate continual improvement.


General Rules

The following can be applied when an organisation is developing objectives and targets:

  • If a significant environmental impact is well managed then it can be linked to a management objective.
  • If a significant environmental impact is poorly controlled then an improvement objective should be set.
  • If an environmental impact could be better controlled then an improvement or monitoring objective should be set depending on resources and ability to control.
  • If an environmental impact results in unnecessary financial cost (e.g. energy use, waste production) then an improvement or monitoring objective would be appropriate.


Management Programmes

Environmental Management programme is another word for an environmental action plan. It provides a lot of detail on how the organisation is going to improve. They are developed to achieve stated environmental objectives and targets and as a minimum identify:

  • task to be carried out,
  • who is responsible for carrying out the task and
  • timeframe for carrying out the task.

Take a look at the following environmental management programme sample to give you an idea.

TaskResponsibilityCompletion Date
Monitor electricity consumption to determine baseline.Facilities ManagerMonthly (on-going)
Change lighting in office to compact fluorescent (energy saving) typesFacilities ManagerJan 2011
Promote switch off programme for computer monitors.Office ManagerMarch 2011
Implement purchasing system that takes into account energy consumption of computer equipment.Human ResourcesSeptember 2011

Management programmes are key elements for the successful implementation of an EMS providing specific information on how improvements are to be achieved. It is important that a management programme is:

  • dynamic
  • monitored for progress
  • revised on a regular basis to reflect change.

It should be noted that an environmental management programmes can be divided into more detailed programmes if required.



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