The growing awareness that ISO International Standards can make practical contributions to tackling many of the challenges facing the international community has led to ISO being invited to participate in two of the "global agenda councils" set up by the World Economic Forum (WEF), organizer of the annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, of leaders from business, government and civil society.
Each council serves as an informal advisory group to the WEF and, through the forum, to the international community. The councils unite experts, including business and government leaders, in an on-going, comprehensive and shared creative process to monitor and address global, regional and industry challenges.
ISO, developer of more than 19 000 voluntary International Standards for just about every sector of technology and business activity, has been invited to participate on WEF councils working on the following issues:
- Benchmarking progress – specifically contributing to the debate on the future of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) beyond 2015 by proposing a blueprint for the next generation of MDGs
- New platforms for global cooperation, problem solving and governance.
ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele attended meetings with public and private sector leaders at the 2012 WEF Forum in Davos in January of the groups addressing these issues.
"One of the primary focuses at this Davos meeting was 'global risk', " he said. "The Global risks report 2012 was presented, highlighting areas where escalating risk in financial markets, consequence of climate change, societal revolution, and unintended consequences of technology have increased likelihood of instability. What is significant is the number of these areas where ISO has and is developing standards and some where we need to ask questions as to how we could do more – cyber-attacks being one."
He pointed out that ISO standards support the UN Millennium Goals, such as for ensuring food and water for the world's population. Other standards already existing or under development address areas such risk management, corporate governance, information security, road traffic safety, supply chain security, climate change, health and safety, consumer issues and societal responsibility – all pressing issues on the global agenda.
"At international meetings like the Davos forum, there is broad discussion on what the global challenges are," said the ISO Secretary-General. "ISO's expertise is in developing specific requirements, metrics and guidance to provide global solutions to such challenges and this why I'm excited at the prospect of ISO contributing to the work of the WEF global agenda councils."