We often talk about how important standards are for consumers. They help ensure that products are safe, environmentally friendly and work well. In short, without standards, life would be much more difficult.
But the flipside of this relationship, how important consumers are for standards, does not always get the attention it deserves.
Helping products to meet consumers' needs
Standards define the characteristics and specifications of products, so, the more active consumers are in developing standards, the more likely it is that the end product will meet their needs.
ISO International Standards are developed by experts from all over the world who meet to discuss standards and what they should contain.
We aim to have representatives from as many interested parties as possible in this process for example from consumer groups, NGOs, academia and other stakeholder groups. A consumer can take part in this process by becoming a consumer representative, for more information please contact your member body.
How to be an effective consumer representative
However, getting involved in standards development as a consumer representative can feel daunting for someone who has never done it before. This is why a few years ago the ISO committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO) developed, in partnership with the consumer group Consumers International, an online introductory tutorial.
This year we decided to update this tutorial with a new section dedicated to how to be an effective consumer representative, to help consumers truly make a difference in the standardization process.
The tutorial gives practical advice about how to present and champion consumer issues during the standards development meetings, and how to prepare and report back efficiently, in addition to more general information about the important role consumers play in standardization.