Some 120 participants from about 70 countries are exchanging their experience on ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on social responsibility. The workshop is organized by the Development and Training Services of ISO.

ISO Secretary-General, Rob Steele, welcomed the participants and thanked the experts, sponsors and donors – including Jorge Cajazeira, Chair of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility – for their presence and for the work they had accomplished. He said: "We are celebrating the second anniversary of the standard. This is the first time ISO has organized such an event on one specific standard and it shows the importance and relevance of the standard to developing countries."

Participants at the ISO 26000 developing country workshop, held on  5-6 November 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo: ISO/Granier)

He underlined that during the development process of the standard, the involvement of developing countries was very important. Experts from 99 different countries contributed, over 40 % of them from developing countries.

Many representatives of ISO national members are present at this week’s workshop and participants are encouraged to make it as interactive as possible through roundtables and question and answer sessions to show how national standards bodies (NSBs) can further promote ISO 26000.

Beer Budoo, Director of ISO Development and Training Services, declared: "The objectives of the workshop are to share the experience on the uptake of ISO 26000 in developing countries, discuss the way forward for NSBs, and equip them with ideas, information and tools to develop action plans to ensure the further uptake of ISO 26000. This is a dynamic situation in which NSBs have a central role to play in the way forward."

He quoted some activities linked to ISO 26000, such as the project within the Middle East-North Africa region with the objective of creating a pool of national experts on social responsibility in eight pilot countries to support its implementation.

Dr. Jochen Weikert, Senior Manager for private sector cooperation at Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on behalf of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), said: “We have supported ISO 26000 for the last two years because of its importance. With ISO 26000, there is a global consensus and we believe this consensus has to be maintained."

Speakers such as Jonathon Hanks, from South Africa, and Martin Neureiter, from Austria, gave participants an overview of ISO 26000 from the start of its development based on their involvement in the process, as well as the challenges linked to social responsibility. They described the development process of ISO 26000 that brought together experts representing; industry; consumers; government; labour; nongovernmental organizations; and organizations representing service, support, research, and others. They said it was a fascinating process and that the membership of developing countries grew during the project, showing how ISO 26000 has become an important global document.

This workshop, sponsored by GIZ and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), will be followed by an open forum on ISO 26000, on 7-8 November 2012.