5.1 Leadership and Commitment [ISO 14001]

ISO 14001 Leadership and Commitment Requirements

Top Management are required to demonstrate leadership and emphasize the importance of conforming to the EMS requirements.

Additionally, leadership must also ensure that the EMS is achieving its intended results, and that continual improvement is driven within the organization.

Leadership General Napoleon Bonaparte

How to Demonstrate Leadership and Commitment to the EMS

  • Taking accountability for the effectiveness of the EMS and ensuring that it achieves its intended outcomes (enhancement of environmental performance, fulfilment of compliance obligations, achievement of environmental objectives)
  • Ensuring the EMS is compatible with the organisation’s strategic direction
  • Integrating the EMS requirements into the organisation’s day-to-day business processes
  • Communicating the importance of environmental management
  • Directing and inspiring environmental initiatives
  • Supporting and motivating staff to enable them to contribute to the effectiveness of the EMS

Auditors Will Look For Evidence of Management Commitment

During certification audits, Auditors should look for evidence that Top Management has a ‘hands-on’ approach to the management of the EMS.

From a leadership perspective, communication is critical. The method and frequency of communication must be well established and clearly defined to internal, external, and all other interested parties. Management and leadership must demonstrate involvement in all operations of the EMS.

management commitment

Evidence of Top Management Commitment

Top Management involvement may be found in:

  • Strategy documents, policies, business plans, objectives, including deployment and progress reporting
  • Annual Reports
  • Environmental goals and communications
  • Involvement in objective setting, performance evaluation and follow-up
  • Clearly defined and understood responsibilities and authorities using organisation charts and job descriptions
  • Broad and active involvement in management reviews and other management forums where the EMS is on the agenda
  • Management meeting minutes

If it is evident that the Top management team is not involved with the EMS, a major nonconformance is likely.

Related Information You Might Find Useful

Next ISO 14001 Clause

Each ISO 14001 Clause Explained

Updated: 26th February 2022
Author: Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
Learn more about Richard

ISO Checklist

Don’t Try to Manage It All Alone!


Our ISO Auditors and Quality Manager Trainers have been in this industry for years, and since 2002 we’ve been providing thousands of small businesses and large corporations with the tools they need to get certified.

Instead of trying to create everything you need to follow this process from scratch, use ours. We have procedures, templates, checklists, process maps, forms and gap analysis tools to help your documentation without missing a single input or output.

Before you invest all the hours reinventing the wheel, before you spend countless dollars outsourcing the task — try our templates.

Start with expert templates, then make them yours


ISO Procedures