LIVE: ISO Annual Meeting 2022
Breaking news from ISO's flagship event.
Welcome to the ISO Annual Meeting 2022. We will be bringing you the inside story of this event as it unfolds in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Keep an eye on this page for regular updates.
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Thursday 22 September
Highlights from the ISO General Assembly 2022
The General Assembly always delivers exciting outcomes to the ISO community, and 2022 was no exception: here are the top 4 highlights.
New ISO President elected
Assembled delegates were given the chance to cast their votes to determine the next ISO President. Several candidates presented, but a substantial majority confirmed Dr Sung Hwan CHO for a two-year term (2024-2025). Dr Hwan, who will serve as President-elect in 2023, was nominated by the ISO member for South Korea, KATS.
Award recognizes the people who help keep us safe at work
Every year the LDE Award, named in honour of long-serving, late ISO Secretary-General Lawrence D. Eicher, recognizes a group of standardizers who have delivered excellence. This year, it was won by the ISO committee that deals with occupational health & safety. Find out more about their work and how they’re helping people get home safe and sound.
Annual Meeting 2023 heads south
Delegates responded enthusiastically when the location for next year’s Annual Meeting was revealed as Brisbane, Australia. Hosted by ISO Member Standards Australia, you can check out this sneak preview if you can’t wait until 2023!
Climate commitments confirmed
Building on the London Declaration, ISO members approved a resolution to promote International Standards in their respective countries as a means of accelerating progress on climate action.
How can we really achieve sustainability for the tourism sector
For the first time in over two years, people are making travel plans. The world has changed since COVID, however. Today, people are looking at tourism with a sustainability lens. Yet not all sustainable tourism is equal.
Today’s session on sustainable tourism explored what good tourism looks like, and how we can help consumers distinguish between the wide plethora of sustainability claims. As panellists pointed out, when it comes to sustainable tourism and travel, most people don’t think about the complexities – the water, energy, food safety – and the long chain of services that are interconnected. These are all important considerations, making it difficult to “pin down” any proper guidelines to avoid “fake claims”.
Equally as complex, though perhaps less obvious, is the expectations of travellers which are not necessary aligned with a true sustainability agenda. The “comfortable” accommodation may entail certain costs – with negative impacts on local communities and the environment. Tourism providers may tailor their sustainability claims to consumer expectations, which often demand a certain level of quality and comfort.
As panellists suggested, claims must be substantiated by readily available information for consumers to make their informed choice. Travel providers are also more likely to act on sustainability if they expect that the customers will reward them. By making a conscious effort to choose sustainably, each and every one of us has the power to “nudge” the sector to take more concrete action.
Panellists agreed that support from ISO standards on sustainability is key to giving direction to the sector. By setting best practice – all the while being incorporated in policy and regulations – International Standards can be leveraged to harmonize the notion of sustainable tourism for a more just and fairer world for all travellers.
Together in climate action for a better world
For the first time since ISO’s commitment to achieve the climate agenda by 2050, members of ISO came together to discuss the progress made over the past year. Its adoption of the London Declaration in September 2021 enabled, for the first time, a coherent action plan to tackle the climate crisis among its global membership.
With pannelists representing the national standards bodies (NSBs) of ISO – Australia, Brazil, Fiji, Germany, and South Africa – the session was also an opportunity to foster a sense of camaraderie, collective purpose and common destiny.
The climate crisis is at our doorstep. Each one of the countries represented on the panel is being impacted by extreme weather, from floods to hurricanes to landslides. The need for urgent measures to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change is overwhelming. As Brazil’s Jorge Cajazeira, Head of International Affairs, Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), highlighted efforts to mitigate the impacts of forest fires and how the use of standards can bring effective improvements.
For South Africa, stakeholder engagement has been key. According to Sadhvir Bissoon, Executive Standards, South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS), “we need to ensure we have a balanced representation.” What has been lacking, he said, is regulatory and policy maker participation, especially from developing countries.
“We need to come together…to combine our forces,” Michael Stephan, Chief Operations Officer, Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. (DIN), highlighting the importance of stakeholder engagement. Coming together at an international level is key, he said, stating that 80% of standards in Germany are International Standards.
“Collaborating for good,” was exemplified by a concrete partnership. Karen Batt, Head of International, Standards Australia (SA), explained how Australia supported Fiji, a country increasingly prone to cyclones, in creating their own version of wind loading standards. The benefits of this partnership were reiterated by Fiji’s Ajeshni Lata, Standards Officer, Department of National Trade Measurement and Standards (DNTMS). She highlighted that sharing resources, know-how and experts were key to its success.
All agreed that strong and solid standards exist. However, raising awareness and effective communication are still lacking. As one panellist pointed out: “It’s up to us – the national standards bodies – to lead the dialogue or to be a leading part in the dialogue.” Afterall, we are much more connected and interdependent than we realize. International Standards can, and should, contribute to climate action. Each and every member of ISO needs to deploy the portfolio of standards, and together build and protect the future of our world.
Towards a circular economy
Building the circular economy will take a range of new digital changes to how businesses run and how consumers live. In this session entitled “The circular economy: going digital”, a range of insights from experts showcase how far we’ve come and what still needs to be done to make the circular economy a reality.
Linear consumption is reaching its limits, as panellists suggested. “We have to break the boundaries of the linear economy towards a circular economy. We don’t have a choice.” Panellists presented a few prominent examples of digital technologies supporting business and industry, including B2C, smart farming and digital monitoring/manufacturing. However, the use of digital will not lead systematically to sustainability. Developing countries, in particular, may have challenges – from infrastructure, such as connectivity and accessibility, to financial cost.
Proper leadership is needed to provide a framework in which this can be developed. While three key groups were discussed – government, industry and consumers – panellists deplored that no one group is taking the lead. All agreed that we must shift the focus onto governments for this transition. “Governments need to be enablers,” as many suggested. This could be coupled by “incentives” encouraging both consumers and industry to design a more circular future.
The circular economy requires the broadest possible input and commitment from all. Undeniably, governments are the gatekeepers of policymaking and it is important to make available to them a comprehensive set of national and international standards from which to work from. These standards could provide the shift that is needed – and the potential ahead for rethinking the future.
Wednesday 21 September
Africa: making the clean energy transition
Africa — How are the diverse countries of that continent managing the transition to green energy? And how will they address the apparent contradictions of immense resources and equally large disparities of access to energy?
The eyes of the world will be on the continent that is home to more than a billion people when it hosts the COP27 climate conference later this year. This session invited panellists from industry and government to share their views, and gather regional perspectives from such diverse countries as Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda,
As with many of the nuanced and technical subjects that people are talking about at ISO’s 2022 Annual Meeting, the discussion commenced with an exploration of what is meant by ‘energy transition’.
Deputy Director General of International Renewable Energy (IRENA), Gauri Singh, set the tone by stating clearly that it was about a move away from fuels, expressing the hope that the transition would occur by 2050. She highlighted the knock-on effects of energy disparity in areas like agricultural productivity.
Expanding on this view, Yann Fromont, Vice President for Standardization and Industrial Affairs Strategy at Schneider Electric, recognized that energy transition is not a convenient option, but a necessary one. He remarked on the fundamental importance of access to energy and went on to say that without it, none of the SDGs will be achieved. Three things must be borne in mind when making the transition according to Yann: Affordability, Availability and Accessibility at the heart of a clearly defined national plan.
The divergent challenges of the continent were brought to life through regional perspectives from countries across the continent. Despite their geographic and cultural differences, they were agreed that infrastructure, in particular reliable and modern grids, are an essential part of the equation.
Such grids need to be developed in flexible ways to account for rural situations and numerous cities with populations in the millions. The expansion of smart grids and connected grids, underpinned by standards, is helping to provide solutions across such very different environments.
Panellists were agreed that it was technically achievable on a continent with abundant solar resources, but that cooperation and flexible financing models were needed to make it a reality. Standards were cited as playing a role in giving investors confidence in new sectors, since currently the majority of investment continues to be in fossil fuels with Alewu Cherry Achema, Head of Electrical and Electronics at the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) saying that “full implementation of standards is essential to get networks up and running and support energy transition”.
Why corporate governance is crucial for the 21st century
The momentum around corporate governments is rapidly evolving according to panellists at the recently concluded session. There is increasing recognition that the role of governance is essential for sustainability. Governance is grounded in the principles that first originated in the 1999, issued by the OECD, to ensure global financial and economic stability. Panel discussions explored why and how board members need to transition from profit-driven decision making to one that is based on broader societal goals and values.
In particular, panellists highlighted the position of board member as no longer an honorary role. Today, the position entails greater responsibility, leadership and engagement, with a particular focus on non-financial issues. These include factoring in the value of nature into the accounting system.
Prioritizing education is key to ensure that corporate governance translates into concrete action towards a more sustainable future. As one panellist put it: “We can’t expect people to provide oversight if they don’t have the insight.”
Companies have suffered their fair share of disruptions in recent years. Climate change, digitalization and technology change are leading companies to rethink their business models in order to survive and thrive. All these issues combined challenge boards to think about the future and panellists all agreed that standards hold the key. ISO has the potential to invite key people to the standards table. Only when key stakeholders are brought in can we reframe the conversation.
Innovative solutions for water scarcity
Israel’s commitment to recapture and reuse water was the topic of today’s session on water scarcity. Over 90 % of water used in the country is recycled; this is by far the highest reuse of water by any country. It’s the “Silicon Valley of water technologies”, according to the session’s moderator, Vered Oren, Director, Communications and Foreign Affairs at SII, the Standards Institution of Israel.
With water such a precious commodity, the session explored how innovative water technologies, supported by International Standards, can help address water scarcity, especially in developing countries. The consequences of water scarcity manifest crucially in not having enough drinking water, but also have knock-on effects on other essential industries, such as agriculture and health.
Like Israel, many developing countries are always looking for ways to conserve water, or to use technology that leads to the most efficient use of water possible. As an example, Israel showcased three leading companies that are making groundbreaking work in this area – Netafim, Biopuremax and Watergen – and using the power of standards to transform their products.
For its part, ISO has been working on the topic of water, on its journey from wastewater to reuse, whether for agricultural, urban or industry purposes. While there’s an abundance of standards underpinning these innovations, certain areas remain underdeveloped. Atmospheric water generation is one such example, and a taste-test was held to showcase the quality of the water produced by this new technology. One thing’s for certain, Israel’s water technologies, when leveraged at the global level, can bring huge benefits to humanity.
Old people, new opportunities
The world is ageing. Panellists at today’s session are puzzling over how to deal with world’s ageing population. The older populations are growing faster than all younger age groups, thanks to people living longer, healthier lives and declining birth rates in many countries. It’s an issue that is feared to have a swathe of socioeconomic consequences – such as implications for workforces, healthcare, consumer trends, physical and social environments, and more.
This demographic transition, as many panellists suggested, will lead to “great challenges and great opportunities”. Rapid uptake of technologies is one such opportunity. It’s helping people maintain their independence as they age in their own communities and at home. Telehealth and telecare have enabled distance support for people living in remote or isolated areas. What’s more, smart home technologies support individuals in their own home, from clinical care to basic safety and support. Smart mobility and smart trends are also offering opportunities for people to get around their communities. As one panellist highlighted, we have a global opportunity to translate that into local opportunities”. We need to balance this by digitally enabled support and care as well as options for people who can’t engage at that level – so that everyone is included.
Panellists brought to the forefront the different perspectives and cultural differences across countries and regions, as well as within national contexts. While these differences clearly exist, the COVID-19 pandemic created a new beginning in terms of people’s relationships with their families. This was, for the first time, an opportunity to “review and reset our relationships”, including the way in which people care for their elders.
There is a need to educate, share knowledge and to actually show how one side can benefit from better and transparent interaction. In this evolving context, standards add value. “ISO provides a common currency”, as suggested by one panellist, giving older people opportunities to design and co-create new features as societies age. With an international focus of what is best practice, ISO is helping ageing population face the future with confidence.
Tuesday 20 September
Cutting the complexities of climate and trade
Climate and trade are inextricably linked. Just as trade policy and activity can impact the climate, the climate can have a significant disruptive effect on trade flows. These were among the topics covered at the recent session entitled “How trade policies can support the climate agenda”.
Erik Wijkström, Head of TBT section, WTO, put it rather succinctly: “You don’t use trade policy to achieve climate policy.” He referred to the rise of emissions worldwide and the areas to address the issue, including regulatory outcomes referencing standards. This is particularly important to achieve certain environmental outcomes. But one should not only focus on emissions, adaptation and technologies also need to be factored in as temperatures continue to increase.
For Kennedy Mbeva, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, the main challenge is aligning trade policy with climate goals. There’s a need to frame trade policy and climate policy. These are mutually supportive and need to be tackled simultaneously in order to harness the synergies between them. What’s more, many trade policy tools can be leveraged to tackle climate change. Herein lies the problem – there exists hundreds of trade agreements between countries, which leads to fragmentation and a diversity of approaches.
According to Nick Davies, Director, Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation at the ICC, we need to focus on the practicalities of doing trade. It’s important to “harness digital tech to make digital accountability and transparency cheaper and easier”. There needs to be some sort of catalysis, a concerted action across the public and private sectors.
Bringing in the voluntary carbon market perspective, Pedro Martins Barata, Senior Director at the Environmental Defense Fund and Partner at Get2C, explains the huge demand for carbon credits – now close to the 2 billion mark with the potential to scale up. Standards – and the convergence among them – are key. A good standard will help policy, but it’s only one tool in the “solutions” box. It’s a concrete way of moving the conversation forward.
There was overall agreement on building trust in the system. A common benchmark would boost confidence. This is where ISO’s upcoming net-zero guiding principles will come in. Launched at this year’s COP27 in November, it will provide, for the first time, a standardized definition of net zero and related concepts.
Building confidence with blended conformity assessment
Conformity assessment and its associated activities go hand-in-hand with standards. In this session participants had the chance to hear from a diverse group of experts who each gave their own take on the ways that digitalization is changing their work.
Brought together by Marcus Long from the IIOC, a trade association of global certification and assurance organizations, participants were agreed that overall, there were great opportunities, but that a hybrid model, where in-person work is supplemented by technology that allows remote interventions, seemed to be the way forward.
Expert panellist Sheronda Jeffries, an engineer with 14 years of experience at CISCO Systems, pointed out that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for all sectors. “If you look at the automotive industry […] they were quick to adapt. Some sectors like food safety [for example using ISO 22000-based FSSC systems] are asking how to maintain confidence.”
Eve Gadzikwa, CEO of the Southern African Development Community Accreditation Service, brought insights into the ways that developing countries could also benefit from the increasing use of technology in conformity assessment activities, by reducing complexity of tasks through automation and improving integration. Ms. Gadzikwa concluded saying “there are new ways of ensuring quality, safety and security, and they’re here to stay.”
Trust in the digital age
Introducing globalization 2.0. In today’s fast-paced, interconnected world, countries need to improve capacities to engage in, and benefit from, digital trade. In this recently concluded session, a panel of experts discussed how digitalization will impact world trade, and the standards and conformity assessment that support it, particularly in developing countries.
COVID propelled the world into a new era, accelerating the global transition to digital. As a cornerstone of trade, conformity assessment was forced into using digital assessment tools to continue delivering their services. “Remote audits through fancy apps on mobile phones” became the norm. While digital is bringing benefits, from convenience to cost-effectiveness, there are underlying issues of trust.
If we trust a certificate on paper, why shouldn’t we accept it in digital format? While this is certainly true, the transition to digital is not easy. Developing countries, for example, face important challenges including a digital divide which prevents whole sections of the population from accessing online trade. Take, for instance Kenya, which is leading digital infrastructure development in Africa. Large-scale Internet access continues to be hampered by the lack of dissemination of information about standards.
Throughout the session, panellists touched upon the many opportunities between trade and standards. On the one hand, greater interaction is needed to accelerate these synergies at the global level. On the other, regional collaboration was highlighted as the most immediate solution. As one panellist put it: “Standards are the oil that grease the moving parts – inspectors, labs, standards setters. At the end of the day, it’s about trust – trust is the currency of international trade.”
Working smarter together – achieving global collaboration
The second day of ISO’s 2022 Annual Meeting offered an opportunity to engage with some of the foremost minds in the SDG–sustainable development space as they presented their vision for the ways in which we, as a global society, can work together more effectively to meet pressing challenges with urgent and effective action.
The panel comprised Sandra Cabrera De Leicht, from the International Trade Center, Gauri Singh, Deputy Director General of International Renewable Energy (IRENA), Houssam Chahine from the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and policy analyst Marianna Karttunen from the OECD.
Naturally, standards were firmly on the agenda with lively participation in the session from ISO Secretary-General, Sergio Mujica who was joined by his counterparts from the IEC and ITU, Philippe Metzeger and Chaesub Lee respectively.
Discussions confirmed the critical links between standards and verifiable progress on sustainability initiatives, but also pointed to an expanded role for standards. Several participants expressed a need for standards in new areas. Energy expert Gauri Singh said that in her experience there was growing interest in green hydrogen, but no clear agreement on what ‘green’ means in this context. A standard in this area could bring clarity in the same way that ISO is leading efforts to establish a shared idea of “net zero”.
Wide-ranging topics around sustainability, technology and the standardization process were addressed, prompted by enthusiastic questioning from online and in-person participants. Directly addressing the future of standardization, and progress towards machine-readable standards, ISO’s Sergio Mujica emphasized that rapidly changing technology must never fail to take people’s needs into account, confirming the importance of standards remaining “accessible and inclusive”.
Making global food systems sustainable
What can we do to ensure food security in a sustainable manner? How can we continue to support a growing population? Today’s panel session on food resilience helped answer these big questions and many more. Key topics included the relevance of technology, local and national food strategies, and adapting to those different contexts and needs.
The role of standards was highlighted through two case studies, from Kenya (satellite data for agriculture improvement) and Singapore (transforming local urban agriculture sector). According to speakers, there’s hope – innovation, technology, sustainability. Precision agriculture has the potential to transform food production, ensuring that soil and crops receive exactly what they need for optimum health, nutrition and productivity.
The session included interactive discussion on how international collaboration can contribute to the creation of a circular economy for food and enable greater food security and supply chain resilience for all. All panellists agreed on the important role of standards for sustainable agricultural systems that support national food policy objectives. The information provided highlighted the important role of standards in both identifying technology and facilitating its use.
Raj Rajasekar, Vice-Chair of Codex Alimentarius Commission and the panel’s moderator, concluded that innovative approaches to promote sustainable food systems will only grow around the world. Standards will be key to shaping a new era of agri-food, from production to consumption.
Monday 19 September
Innovation for transformative climate solutions
“Standards allow us to unleash a lot of potential for climate and sustainability action,” said Massamba Thioye from the UNFCCC at the recently concluded panel session. “Having someone understand what it means to be innovative in climate solutions is an important step to getting there. Standards, focusing on outcomes, allow us to achieve climate solutions.”
The panel brought together leading climate experts to discuss the importance of innovative solutions to address climate challenges and how these integrate international standards. It stirred debate and discussion on how to facilitate solutions that support the climate-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and address core human needs for food, shelter, mobility, and access via alternative value chains aligned with those SDGs.
The session looked at climate-related initiatives. There was a discussion of strategies to ensure the widest applicability of solutions and to take into account the needs of cities, which are feeling some of the most intense effects of climate change. Among the examples cited is the city of Goyang, South Korea.
Transition to new innovation systems and an equitable climate agenda will require collaboration across cities and cross-cutting topics. No one sector, no one actor can do this alone. All agreed that the “go-alone” approach doesn’t work.
Also, panellists highlighted the usefulness of standards as instruments of change. Whether these pertain to mitigation, adaptation or finance, ISO standards cover the breadth of climate-related efforts. According to one panellist, “standards allow significant global impact enabling local actions”.
An important current through all the discussions was how we can make standards come alive as we try to focus on bringing together climate responses. There needs to be a move away from climate risk to climate opportunity, focusing on people as solution providers.
Panellists ended the session with much enthusiasm and hopes for the upcoming COP27 to be held in Egypt in November. There ISO will launch net-zero guiding principles, providing, for the first time, a standardized definition of net zero and related concepts.
Development Bank Chief: “more standards needed”
“International trade will be about standards,” said Marcos Troyjo, President of the New Development Bank (NDB), who gave the opening keynote at this week’s 56th Annual Meeting of the ISO Committee on developing country matters (DEVCO).
The world is transitioning, he said. The cooperative work we do together, among other things the standards we develop, are opening “a new chapter of globalization that works better for all”.
The NDB Chief outlined the parameters by which economic gain will be made, including standards. He also spoke about how more globalization is key to solving the geopolitical challenges and inflationary pressures to restart the global economy – as well as to avert global pandemics moving forward.
The meeting, chaired by DEVCO Chair Julia Bonner Douett, marks more than six decades of helping developing countries increase their participation in standardization and maximize the benefits. It was an opportunity for ISO members, representatives of international organizations and regional standardization bodies to exchange experiences and best practices in support of ISO’s Strategy 2030 and the Action Plan for developing countries 2021-2025.
The DEVCO meeting benefitted from a virtual contribution from Mr Aik Hoe Lim, Director of Trade and Environment at the World Trade Organization (WTO). He touched on the importance of standards and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), as well as the importance of trade itself as a driver of growth. He went on to highlight the challenges of climate and pointed out that real progress can only be made if it can be measured. “We need to establish the integrity of measurements so that we can establish meaningful comparisons”, said Lim. He went on to point out that environmental targets can only be met if there is a shared understand of what those targets are, and the ways in which they can be measured.
Building on the points raised by Mr Aik Hoe Lim, which reinforced the role for international standards, the Head of the WTO’s TBT Trade and Environment Division Eric Wijkström was there in person to take questions from an engaged and participative audience.
ISO Annual Meeting underway
Technologists, entrepreneurs, and leaders from business and government alike have come together in Abu Dhabi today for the ISO annual meeting. The hybrid event is always a highlight of the international standards calendar but has reached new heights this year with a greater number of participants than ever before.
With over a thousand people joining in-person and some four thousand online, ISO, together with the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT), has succeeded in putting together a programme that appeals to many who may not previously have thought of themselves as standardizers.
The importance of collaboration, and a wider view of the role of standards, was a prominent theme in the opening remarks of Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary of MoIAT, who said “this week’s meeting is vital not just to the global industrial ecosystem, but more broadly to trade, economies, and climate action.”
His Excellency Al Suwaidi’s comments were further reiterated by the ISO leadership as President Ulrika Francke took to the stage where she inspired delegates, asking them to “drive the spirit of collaboration forward at national, regional and international levels.”
The Annual Meeting, which features an unprecedented number of participative workshops this year, was officially opened as ISO Secretary-General, Sergio Mujica, told delegates in his concluding welcome to expect a packed and highly collaborative few days.
The ISO Annual Meeting 2022 runs from 19 to 23 September. Find out more and join us virtually in Abu Dhabi.