The breadth of international support for the development of the future ISO 26000 standard giving guidance on social responsibility was demonstrated at the 5th plenary meeting of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (WG SR), held in Vienna, Austria, on 5-9 November 2007:
- The meeting, which was hosted by the Austrian Standards Institute (ON), was held with the support of the Austrian Government and Austrian Development Agency (ADA), together with the United Nations Global Compact and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
- It attracted the record participation of some 400 experts representing the six participating stakeholder groups: industry; government; labour; consumers; nongovernmental organizations; and service, support, research and others.
- The number of developing country members has almost doubled since the beginning of the process and exceeds the number of developed country members.
"The Vienna plenary has attracted the highest number of participants in the WR SR's history," pointed out the WG Chair, Mr. Jorge E.R. Cajazeira, nominated by the ISO member for Brazil (ABNT) at a media conference held to raise awareness of the work. "This indicates that importance of the work, which is very different from typical technical standardization and addresses issues that are relevant and important to society."
ISO 26000 is intended for use by organizations of all types, in both public and private sectors, in developed and developing countries. ISO 26000 will contain guidance, not requirements. It is not a management system standard and will not be for use as a certification standard.
Almost 7 225 comments were received from the WG SR's experts on the third working draft of ISO 26000 (before Vienna). Enough key topics were resolved at the meeting to enable the work to be launched to produce a fourth working draft (WD.4). This draft is being developed by a new Integrated Drafting Task Force (IDTF), established at the Vienna meeting, with balanced stakeholder representation.
Staffan Söderberg, WG SR Vice Chair nominated the ISO member for Sweden (SIS), commented: "The Vienna WG SR meeting will be remembered as the last meeting where we drafted in silos and the first meeting where our 400 experts made way for integrated drafting building on the important foundations laid by the previous task groups. It is a strong sign of the growing consensus among the different stakeholder groups making up the WG SR."
In addition to the work on drafting the standard, ISO and the WG SR have been active on increasing representation and raising awareness. The WG membership has now reached 71 participating countries, with another eight as observers, plus 37 liaison organizations. In the course of the year since the previous plenary meeting, funds were raised by the ISO SR Trust Fund enabling six delegates to attend the Vienna meeting and several regional or national awareness-raising workshops have been held in various parts of the world.
Participants to the Vienna meeting were officially welcomed by: Dr. Walter Barfuss, President of the Austrian Standards Institute (ON); Dmitri Piskounov, UNIDO Managing Director - Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division; and Dr. Hans Winkler, State Secretary in the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.
The next meeting of the WG SR will be held in September 2008, in Santiago, Chile, hosted by the national standards body, INN.
Pictured at the Vienna meeting of the ISO WG SR (from left to right): Sophie Clivio, Technical Programme Manager, ISO Central Secretariat; Staffan Söderberg, Vice Chair of the WG SR; Dmitri Piskounov, UNIDO Managing Director – Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division; Dr. Hans Winkler, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs; Dr. Walter Barfuss, President of the Austrian Standards Institute; Jorge E. R. Cajazeira, Chair of the WG SR; Kristina Sandberg, Secretary of the WG SR.
Further information on the ISO/WG SR and ISO 26000 is available on its public Web site: www.iso.org/sr
Its working documents are publicly accessible at: www.iso.org/wgsr