The ISO 14000 series emerged primarily as a result of the Uruguay round of the GATT negotiations and the Rio Summit on the Environment held in 1992. While GATT concentrates on the need to reduce non-tariff barriers to trade, the Rio Summit generated a commitment to protection of the environment across the world. The environmental field has seen a steady growth of national and regional standards. The British Standards Institution has BS 7750, the Canadian Standards Association has environmental management, auditing, eco-labeling and other standards, the European Union has all of these plus the eco-management and audit regulations, and many other countries (e.g. USA, Germany and Japan) have introduced eco-labeling programs.
After the rapid acceptance of ISO 9000, and the increase of environmental standards around the world, ISO assessed the need for international environmental management standards. They formed the Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment (SAGE) in 1991, to consider whether such standards could serve to: Promote a common approach to environmental management similar to quality management;
Enhance organizations' ability to attain and measure improvements in environmental performance; and
Facilitate trade and remove trade barriers.
In 1992, SAGE's recommendations created a new committee, TC 207, for international environmental management standards. The committee, and its sub-committees include representatives from industry, standards organizations, government and environmental organizations from many countries. The new series of ISO14000 standards are designed to cover:
environmental management systems
environmental performance evaluation
environmental aspects in product standards