Standards provide boost to public policy process

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By Clare Naden
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International Standards help governments and regulators achieve public policy goals, and the key is effective dialogue. This is one of the conclusions of experts at the conference on standards and policy held in Geneva today.

Jointly hosted by IEC, ISO and UNECE, ‘Using and referencing International Standards to support public policy’ looked at the many ways that standards can benefit policy makers, through providing confidence in technical specifications and safety requirements, as well as helping to implement policy commitments themselves.

The one day event featured policy and standardization experts as well as technical and regulatory executives from large organizations such as Philips and Nestlé. Topics covered included how International Standards play an important role in food safety and trade; the global technical framework for energy efficiency; the medical devices industry and the use of standards in implementing global commitments related to sustainability and disaster risk reduction.

IEC General Secretary & CEO Frans Vreeswijk underlined that an electron is the same throughout the world. For electrical and electronic installations regulations could be much more streamlined than they are today.

“Many of today’s major challenges such as universal energy access, disaster mitigation and recovery or the need for smarter cities, are global. International Standards can help regulators to stimulate solutions that interoperate, are safer, more affordable and easier to maintain and repair. This event is an important venue to encourage regulators to participate in the standards setting process, to facilitate national adoption and stimulate economic development.”

ISO acting secretary general Kevin McKinley said it was important that standardizers and policy makers work closely together to not only support the policy-making process, but keep standards relevant as well.

“International Standards can provide much of the technical detail and safety requirements required to make a good policy work. This includes everything from test methods to good management practices and the removal of barriers to international trade,” he said.

“This conference demonstrated the synergies for both standardizers and public policy and how they can collectively contribute to more effective and sustainable world trade.”

Mr. Vasilyev, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), hoped that the three organizations would continue working jointly together to offer practical solutions to policy-makers and businesses – especially to realize the Sustainable Development Goals that have now been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Another area of priority, from his point of view, for cooperation among the organizations going forward, were activities related to awareness-raising and education, so as to ensure visibility and implementation for standards, developed both by UN and by standards organizations.

Details of the event and its speakers can be found on the event website.

Read more about how ISO and IEC International Standards support public policy

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