This year, the World Standards Day theme focuses on the importance of International Standards in the construction industry. As one of the basic human activities throughout the thousands of years of human progress, construction is the perfect example that emphasizes the fact that International Standards are "key tools for staying abreast of technology-driven business development". This takes on an even greater significance in view of the current trend towards globalization in trade and the economy.

IEC President Mathias Fünfschilling, ISO President Giacomo Elias and ITU Secretary General Yoshio Utsumi say in their joint World Standards Day message: "There will never be a standard for beautiful design, but to lay the foundations for an intelligent museum or a sophisticated city infrastructure, standards need to be shared and applied on a practical daily basis by the many professionals." The standards they refer to range from the obvious building standards to those covering telecommunications, electrical installations, electronics, networking and the associated safety standards.

The heads of IEC, ISO and ITU also acknowledge that, in the construction industry as in electronic commerce or any other technology sphere, standardization is at its best when it is international. "The technical agreements developed by IEC, ISO and ITU supply the foundations needed for different products and services, no matter where they are produced."

IEC, ISO and ITU - as the three apex organizations in international standardization - are in the right position to "provide the necessary overall, all-encompassing view that takes in all spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity. The very nature of the international, open and consensus-based standards process ensures that the final standards, be they for products or services, represent the collective knowledge and experience of all sides involved - industries, governments, research institutes, testing laboratories and consumer organizations".

According to the heads of the three organizations, "small and big companies all over the world acknowledge the benefits of International Standards. Many customers and suppliers promote actively the need to join the international standardization network of IEC, ISO and ITU."

International Standards create a common language, enabling manufacturers and suppliers to communicate clearly with engineers, designers, and purchasing agents anywhere in the world. In addition, they address public health and safety issues as well as the impact a product or service may have on the environment.

In conclusion, the IEC, ISO and ITU leaders declare: "To build well for the long term, to build internationally, rationally and cost-effectively, International Standards hold a key to the solution."

World Standards Day 1999 poster