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Organizers of the Riyadh International Standards Summit held on 4 November 2020 issued a call to action for the recognition, support and adoption of international standards. This is the first ever summit on standardization held within G20-related activities.

The Riyadh International Standards Summit was jointly organized by Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) together with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The event was arranged by SASO and the G20 Saudi Secretariat as part of the International Conferences Programme honouring the G20 Saudi presidency year, 2020. It forms part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s efforts, during its presidency, to enhance cooperation between countries of the world in various fields.

Originally intended to take place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which currently holds the G20 Presidency, in light of the global pandemic, the Summit instead took place virtually and welcomed participants from all over the world.

The Riyadh International Standards Summit concluded with the call to action for “each country to recognize, support, and adopt international standards to accelerate digital transformation in all sectors of the economy to help overcome global crises, such as COVID-19, and contribute towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

The Call to Action emphasizes international standards’ important role in the implementation of the United Nations’ Global Agenda aimed at achieving all 17 SDGs by 2030. “Today’s global health crisis has highlighted the need to continue investing in our digital future, through investments to drive infrastructure development, connect the unconnected, and build confidence and trust in digital technologies: elements which are all crucial to the achievement of the SDGs.”

Reflecting on the issues addressed, ISO Secretary-General Sergio Mujica saw a strong common spirit shared by all participants. “This recognition raises the bar on supporting international standards and illustrates the critical role each country can play in overcoming our common challenges and boosting synergies for all. We look forward to the international community answering the call to recognize, support and adopt international standards as a key instrument for economic and social development.”

The Summit enabled an integrated, introspected and exhaustive look at international standards developed by IEC, ISO and ITU, and their role in global trade as well as in social and economic development. Key stakeholders and decision makers were able to exchange experiences and perspectives on the importance of international standards in addressing shared fears and aspirations for the future.

While data analytics is playing a fundamental role in the COVID-19 response and recovery, all sectors are looking to make smarter use of data as part of the fourth industrial revolution,” said  H.E. Dr. Saad Al-Kasabi, Governor of SASO. “Standards help ensure that vital technologies provide economic and societal benefits, and are accessible, interoperable, resilient, and safe for everyone."

“The call to action sends a real message in support of consensus-based international standards developed by IEC, ISO and ITU. It shows that, in these challenging moments of COVID-19, we are interdependent. Mutually beneficial global solutions can be found to our common global challenges,” said IEC General Secretary Philippe Metzger.

Digital technologies used to strengthen and accelerate the collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to enhance the ability to prevent and mitigate future crises, have been a frequent topic of this year’s G20. The call to action reinforces the need for countries to leverage international standards to deliver solutions to such global challenges.

“This pandemic calls for a robust international response. International standards developed by IEC, ISO and ITU go beyond national borders by connecting countries to global markets. They encompass global approaches that enable all countries to grow, thrive and support development for years to come,” concluded Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

About the G20 process

The Group of Twenty, or G20, is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It brings together the leaders of leading economies on Earth.

Collectively, G20 members represent around 80 % of the world’s economic output, two-thirds of the global population and three-quarters of international trade. Throughout the year, representatives from G20 countries gather to discuss financial and socio-economic issues as well as broader humanitarian issues targeted by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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