Sustainable development

ISO standards and sustainable development

Rio de Janeiro’s 1992 conference put sustainable development clearly on the political agenda. More than twenty years on, the issue is more relevant than ever. From carbon footprint to community infrastructures, sustainable events and the many environmental challenges that businesses face, ISO has a comprehensive range of standards that can help businesses and organizations all over the world make progress in the three pillars of sustainable development – the environment, economy and society.

Carbon footprint

The carbon (or environmental) footprint is increasingly used by governments and societies as the core indicator of our impact on the environment. But does one size fit all? ISO has produced a briefing note by environmental standards experts that sheds light on the importance of consistency in standards in this field and how they can break down barriers to trade and help to build a more sustainable future.

On this page you will also find topical information and news postings about how ISO standards support sustainable development.

Video: ISO and social responsibility

Related brochures and products

A guide on how to use the GRI G4 Guidelines and ISO 26000 in conjunction

The ISO 14000 family

A basic introduction to the ISO 14000 family of standards.

Articles on this topic

Creating the bioenergy boom sustainably with ISO 13065

by Elizabeth Gasiorowski Denis

A new ISO standard that helps assess the sustainability of products and processes related to bioenergy has a huge potential to tackle climate change, promote energy security and foster sustainable development.

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How to measure the performance of smart cities

by Maria Lazarte

Smart cities make sense: they waste less, offer better quality of life and ensure a brighter future for the next generation. But as more and more communities strive to optimize services and become more sustainable, how can they tell if their actions are making a difference? A new ISO technical specification can help them out.

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Creating tomorrow's urban landscape

by Mary Ritchie

Our cities and the way we work are changing. A future of smart cities will not only affect our working practices, but it will probably change the way we think. Here, we look at some of the ways in which cities are changing today, and how standards can help create tomorrow’s urban landscape.

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News archive

M&S champions sustainable business with ISO 26000

In its quest to become the world's most sustainable retailer, Marks & Spencer has set a high standard for environmental sustainability and is influencing disruptive change throughout the industry.

Smart cities get on their bikes

Many cities today are plagued by traffic congestion and, in densely populated urban areas, the fastest way of getting around is often on a bicycle. Philippe Legrand, Chair of ISO/TC 149/SC 1, Cycles and major sub-assemblies, tells us how standards can help our cities pedal their way back to urban bliss.

New ISO technical specification to green civil engineering works

With building projects such as roads, bridges, canals and dams, civil engineering works are a feature of our landscape, leaving a trail of woes behind them. Yet if the construction industry is responsible for a large amount of waste and general pollution, it is also well known as the largest industrial employer. That's why, as a key driver in national economies, the building sector has the capacity to propose solutions that will contribute to sustainable development.

ISO Store

  • ISO 14001:2004
    Environmental management systems -- Requirements with guidance for use
  • ISO 14004:2004
    Environmental management systems -- General guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques
  • ISO 26000:2010
    Guidance on social responsibility

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