International Standards can be very useful tools in a policy maker’s toolkit. Some potential advantages include: offering ready-made solutions that already have the buy-in of a wide range of international stakeholders, and meeting the obligations of World Trade Organization (WTO) members to reduce technical barriers to trade.

To help policy makers achieve the many benefits of using standards in their initiatives, ISO has recently published a set of useful tools, including a new Website and a brochure, issued jointly with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Backed by practical examples, they detail how to reference International Standards in policy decisions and regulations, such as public procurement, incentive systems, or awareness campaigns.

The section on conformity assessment has also been reviewed and expanded to become an interactive online platform (www.iso.org/cascoregulators) that policy makers can refer to when using conformity assessment standards in regulation. Combining theory and practice, it offers concrete examples of how to reference conformity assessment standards in regulation. For greater browsing comfort, the information is organized into bite-size units with collapsible links, which help the user navigate through the pages and choose the most appropriate path.

Promoting the engagement of policy makers in International Standards development is also a priority for ISO and several workshops with policy makers are planned for 2015. Stay tuned!

For more information, see www.iso.org/policy.