ISO has just released a new brochure in preparation for the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development in 2012 on how voluntary ISO International Standards, developed through the strength of consensus among stakeholders from business, government and society, have provided tools for translating the global desire for a sustainable world expressed since the Earth Summit in 1992 into practical actions that achieve positive results.

The brochure is entitled Rio+20. Forging action from agreement – How ISO standards translate good intentions about sustainability into concrete results.

It provides an overview of how ISO’s current portfolio of more than 18 600 standards provides solutions in all three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, economic and societal.

The brochure explains that what makes ISO so effective is that it provides a non-political, non-partisan platform where standards are developed through open, transparent processes by representatives of the people that need them, implement them, are affected by them – and who can review and continually improve the results of their implementation.

Agreements reached at events like the Earth Summit and the forthcoming Rio+20 at the intergovernmental level, between public and private sectors, and with civil society still need to be translated into practical actions that can be implemented worldwide.

The brochure states: “ISO is where expert representatives from these stakeholder categories work together to develop globally relevant standards that provide concrete responses for tackling the challenges facing the international community.

“ISO is where people from around the world who want to make a positive difference put on the same team colours and strive to forge tools for transforming global agreement and willpower into global action.”

The brochure provides a concise description of ISO and how it works, and concrete examples of achievements by the international community, who will be represented at Rio+20, working within the ISO system. The examples illustrate how ISO standards serve as tools in the three dimensions of sustainable development. Examples include the following:

  • In the environmental dimension, the ISO 14000 family of standards for environmental management which translates into action ISO's commitment to support the objective of sustainable development discussed at the first Earth Summit
  • The ISO 14064:2006 and ISO 14065:2007 standards which provide an internationally agreed framework for measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and verifying claims made about them
  • More than 650 International Standards for the monitoring of such aspects as the quality of air, water, soil and nuclear radiation. These standards are tools for providing business and government with scientifically valid data on the environmental effects of economic activity. They may also be used as the technical basis for environmental regulations
  • Other environment-related work includes standards for designing buildings, or retrofitting existing ones, for improved energy efficiency
  • In the economic dimension, ISO standards provide solutions and achieve benefits for almost all sectors of activity, including agriculture, construction, mechanical engineering, manufacturing, distribution, transport, healthcare, information and communication technologies, food, water, the environment, energy, quality management, conformity assessment and services
  • In the societal dimension, ISO standards help governments, civil society and the business world to translate societal aspirations, such as for social responsibility, health, and safe food and water, into concrete realizations. In so doing, they support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Rio+20. Forging action from agreement – How ISO standards translate good intentions about sustainability into concrete results.published in English and French, is available free of charge from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department. It can also be obtained from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). The brochure can also be downloaded as a PDF file free of charge from the ISO Website.