Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 15, No. 9, September 2019
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Managing the Impact of Climate Change:
First International Standard for Adaptation Published

Clare Naden

This article was originally published by
International Organization for Standardization, 25 June 2019


When some of the world’s biggest companies value climate risks to their businesses at nearly one trillion dollars, the impact of climate change cannot be ignored. Businesses need to adapt, and a new International Standard has just been developed to help.

Extreme weather, rising temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions are all aspects of our changing climate that can impact businesses. They can also create opportunities. A recent report by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) showed that a group of the world’s largest companies, worth collectively nearly USD 17 trillion, have valued the cost of climate change risks to their business at almost USD 1 trillion. On the flip side, they valued potential gains from business opportunities at more than double.[1]

Therefore, having robust plans in place to adapt to climate change is key to business success.

ISO 14090, Adaptation to climate change — Principles, requirements and guidelines, is the first in a range of ISO standards in this area and aims to help organizations assess climate change impacts and put plans in place for effective adaptation. It helps them identify and manage risks, as well as seize any opportunities that climate change may bring.

It offers a framework that enables organizations to give appropriate consideration to climate change adaptation when designing and implementing policies, strategies, plans and activities.

John Dora, Co-Convenor of the working group that developed the standard, said climate change impacts such as unexpected weather and temperature changes can have a significant effect on an organization’s bottom line if they are not prepared for it, causing infrastructure damage or disruption to their business: “Understanding climate impacts is not just for those implementing climate actions. Organizational decisions are made on the basis of risks and opportunities, so understanding resilience is useful across the value chain such as in purchasing, investment and insurance.”

Fellow Co-Convenor Liang Sun added: “ISO 14090 will enable organizations to assess and prepare for climate impacts and make them more resilient. It will also help them spot potential opportunities for maximizing the use of resources or new sources of revenue.”

The new ISO standard is useful for all kinds of organizations, regardless of whether they have adaptation plans in place. Implementation also enables users to directly contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal on climate action (SDG 13).

ISO 14090 was developed by working group 9 of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental management, subcommittee 7, Greenhouse gas management and related activities, the secretariat of which is held jointly by SAC, ISO’s member for China and SCC, ISO’s member for Canada.

It is intended to be the overarching standard for adaptation to climate change, and the committee is also working on other standards that will provide further guidance. These include ISO 14091, Adaptation to climate change Vulnerability, impacts and risk assessment and ISO 14092, GHG Management and related activities: requirement and guidance of adaptation planning for organizations including local governments and communities.

ISO 14090 is available from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.


[1] UNFCCC news: Major Companies Face USD 1 Trillion in Climate Risks


Sustainable Development Goal 13, CLIMATE ACTION ~ Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

PROTECTING OUR PLANET ~ Find out how ISO standards make the most of our shared resources through efficiency and innovation.

ISO AND CLIMATE CHANGE ~ An overview of how ISO standards can help organizations adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts.


Clare Naden is a news and communications specialist at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Geneva, Switzerland.

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Psalm 146:3


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