Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Trond Giske, praised the “vital role” of international standardization in support of issues such as innovation, technology and health care when he spoke at the opening of the 33rd General Assembly of ISO, the world’s largest developer of International Standards, in Oslo on 15 September.

Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Trond Giske
, is welcomed to the 33rd ISO General Assembly by
(from left)
: the ISO Secretary-General, Mr. Robert Steele; the ISO President, Dr. Alan Morrison; the Managing Director of Standards Norway, Dr. Trine Tveter, and the Chairman of Standards Norway, Mr. Jan A. Oksum.
(Photo: ©Standards Norway/Yvonne Haugen)

“We see the results of the invisible job that standardization organizations do around us every day,” the Minister said. “Standards make sure that the key fits the lock and that the paper fits into the printer. On any given day, each one of us may come across a substantial number of standards. They make our lives easier and safer, and they enable trade, growth and development.

“There is no doubt that we need technology, new processes and new products. We need innovation to secure green growth and a better distribution of health care. ISO and the international standardization community play a vital role in making this happen,” Mr. Giske concluded.

The ISO General Assembly, which takes place from 15-17 September, is being hosted by Standards Norway (SN), the ISO member for the country. SN’s Chairman, Mr. Jan A. Oksum, told participants: “Over the last few years, standardization has been reaching out to new areas. These developments constitute challenges as well as opportunities. At the same time, we have seen globalization spreading to almost all corners of our world, thus making our globe a small home for a rapidly growing population. The future calls for better coordination, common solutions, improved efficiency, sustainable economic growth and widespread social responsibility,”

ISO, whose membership comprises the national standards institutes of 163 countries, is the world's largest developer of voluntary, consensus-based International Standards with a current portfolio of more than 18 300 standards for business, government and society.

The contribution of ISO International Standards to tackling the growing diversity of interrelated and complex challenges the world is facing today is at the heart of the strategy for the next five years that is the main item on the agenda of the General Assembly. The event is being attended by 370 delegates from 121 countries and also from 13 international organizations that are partners to ISO.

Opening the event, the ISO President, Dr. Alan Morrison, declared: “Standardization can change and transform our world, without many people realizing it, until everyone is talking about the important influence of this or that standard. It first starts with a need. A market need, a consumer need, a regulatory need. This need is then voiced through you, our members – the representatives of more than 97 % of the world’s population!

“Together we mobilize hundreds of thousands of experts. Together, we work on building consensus, fostering cooperation and facilitating communication among stakeholders that think differently, have different interests, motivations and experiences. The job is a crucial one and the result is standards that shape global markets, and spread harmonization and best practice to all corners of the world.”  

The ISO Secretary-General, Mr. Robert Steele, in his report to delegates, affirmed: “The world is looking for solutions that are global, the result of processes that are inclusive, transparent and robust to respect all those interested and affected, and that provide pragmatic leadership. The development, or potential to develop, standards to help address key areas in the challenges facing the world confirm ISO’s growing reputation for developing solutions that are globally relevant.

“ISO standards published, or in development, assist business efficiency and effectiveness, information and societal security, the response to climate change, energy efficiency and renewable resources, carbon footprint of products and supply chains, sustainable building design and operation, water services, nanotechnologies, intelligent transport systems, food safety management, health informatics and social responsibility. These are all examples where global understanding of such issues will be enhanced and harmonized as a result of standardization activity.”

The General Assembly programme also includes an open session on “IT@work and the contribution of standards” on 16 September. The ISO open session will make intensive use of social media to reach a wider public, further encouraging openness and communication. People from around the world will be able to follow the IT@work conference live via webcast.

Standards Norway is setting up a “Twitter wall”, inviting participants and those following the event online to submit comments and questions using the hashtag “#isooslo2010”. A selection of tweets will then be communicated to the facilitator and speakers for comment during the open session.

In addition, a number of videos of ISO General Assembly events are being made available on YouTube.