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ISO Celebrates 70 Years

2017 is ISO’s 70th anniversary!…

2017 is ISO’s 70th anniversary! The ISO story began in 1946 when delegates from 25 countries gathered in London to discuss the future of standardization. A year later, on 23 February 1947, ISO officially came into existence. In this post-war era, the founding members saw international standards as a key to the world’s reconstruction efforts.

Back in 1947, the purpose of the fledgling organization was to facilitate the coordination and unification of standards developed by its member bodies, all of which were national standardization entities in their respective countries. The founders decided that the organization would be open to every country wanting to collaborate with equal rights and equal duties.

These founding principles still hold true today and the ISO family has blossomed to include 163* members from almost every country in the world. Standardization has come a long way and ISO International Standards, which now cover almost all aspects of technology and business, will continue to ensure positive change in an evolving world.

The first steps

Following the creation of the organization, 67 groups of experts (called technical committees) were set up in specific technical fields such as screw threads, marine technology, food, textiles, paints and laboratory equipment with a mandate to develop International Standards. This led to the birth, in 1951, of the first ISO standard (called “Recommendations” at the time) –ISO/R 1:1951, Standard reference temperature for industrial length measurements. Since then, the ISO portfolio has expanded to include over 22 000 standards supporting all the important technological, environmental and social changes that have taken place in the world.

“For 70 years, ISO has made standards that have shaped our history and accompanied the world’s greatest innovations. From the standardization of materials, components and equipment for the aerospace or automotive industry to the measurement of environmental pollutants, from establishing a management system to ensure food safety in the supply chain to creating guidelines for human-robot interaction, the need for international standardization has always evolved with the needs of industry and society,” says ISO President Dr. Zhang Xiaogang.

Expanding the community

ISO has worked hard over the years to broaden its circle of stakeholders, bringing different audiences to standardization, such as consumers or developing countries. The 1950s saw a number of new ISO member bodies join the organization from the developing world. To respond to these members’ needs, ISO set up in 1961 the ISO Committee for developing country matters (ISO/DEVCO), which helps them get the most out of standards development work. Today, three-quarters of ISO’s members are from developing countries.

Helping to improve the satisfaction and safety of consumers is another vital role of standards. Integrating their views in standards development is therefore essential because these real-life perspectives help ensure that issues such as safety and quality are adequately addressed. The importance of consumer leverage was endorsed by the creation, in 1978, of a Council Committee on Consumer Policy, now officially known as the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO), to promote and encourage consumer interests in standards.

Effective and wide-reaching stakeholder engagement is essential in maintaining the relevance of International Standards. To ensure a strong relationship between standards and innovation, ISO has built collaborative ties with a network of global and regional organizations, including a partnership with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and has forged links with over 700 international organizations working in fields related to standardization. Furthermore, the contribution of large and small businesses, regulatory authorities and governments throughout the world is fundamental to the proper functioning of ISO.

Challenges for the future

“For the past 70 years, ISO has developed standards that drive industrial progress, promote global commerce and improve health, safety and the environment. But this is just the beginning,” says Dr. Zhang.

“Looking to the future, it is clear that our world faces many challenges that cut across national borders. Climate change, water scarcity, cyber security and large-scale migration are just some of the issues we face today that require integrated, international action.”

Many of these challenges have been included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations as part of their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Launched in 2015, the SDGs set ambitious targets for the next 15 years and will help concentrate international action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

“The ISO community has many standards that can help organizations and companies address this agenda,” says Dr. Zhang. “We are ready to provide efficient tools to help the different communities worldwide face up to these challenges and shape a better world.”

The future of standardization is promising.

This article has been republished in full with permission from ISO.

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ANSI Seeks Comments on New ISO Field of Consumer Vulnerability

Interested in consumer vulnerability? ANSI…

Interested in consumer vulnerability? ANSI wants to hear from you.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has circulated a proposal for a new field of activity for a new ISO standard to be titled “Guideline for inclusive service—identifying and responding to consumers in vulnerable situations.” As the U.S. member body to ISO, ANSI is seeking interested stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal by April 7.

The proposal, submitted by ISO’s Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO) and BSI, explains that the new ISO standard would provide guidance on how to identify consumers in vulnerable situations and how to develop, implement, and maintain policies and procedures for organizations to handle them.

Consumer vulnerability is any circumstance that puts consumers at greater risk when choosing or using products or services. A variety of factors contribute to consumer vulnerability—which might be long or short term, temporary, permanent, or sporadic—including debt, unemployment, old age, mental health issues, and physical impairments.

An international standard would help organizations minimize consumer risk by:

  • Raising awareness and understanding of consumer vulnerability.
  • Giving guidance on how to identify consumers in vulnerable circumstances.
  • Establishing processes and procedures that will help organizations respond to consumers in vulnerable situations.

All interested stakeholders are invited to review the proposal, which includes a listing of relevant documents at the international, regional, and national levels, and stakeholder categories that may benefit from by the proposal. View it on ANSI’s website.

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Enhancing Traceability with a New ISO Project Committee

How do you know that…

How do you know that your bottle of champagne is the real McCoy? That your boots were really made in Italy or that your milk is indeed pasteurized? Traceability—known as chain of custody—is important for ensuring the authenticity, and therefore the quality and safety, of virtually every product imaginable. A new ISO committee has just been formed to make it easier.

From raw materials such as cotton to the T-shirt in your favorite shop, knowledge and tracking of the specific product characteristics (e.g., origin, sustainability traits and/or manufacturing process) is increasingly important and demanded by consumers. Traceability, and hence transparency, provides reassurance and a better understanding of production characteristics in order to reduce risks to health, safety, and quality. In many cases, it is even a legal requirement. A reliable chain-of-custody (CoC) management system is therefore important for certification and quality assurance schemes.

The world is awash with CoC systems and programs, all with their own semantics, presentation, and industry focus, and include CoCs for food safety, sustainable agriculture or compliance in manufacturing. But the sheer number of such systems adds unnecessary layers of administration, thereby increasing costs and pushing smaller companies out of international markets. It is with this in mind that a new ISO project committee—ISO/PC 308, Chain of custody—was established, making traceability simpler for all supply chain actors by using a uniform ISO language globally.

Chair of ISO/PC 308 Rob Busink said: “The proliferation of traceability systems and definitions is causing unnecessary confusion, complexity and costs for players in different supply chains. The proposed generic chain-of-custody standard will define supply chain models and the respective traceability levels and specific requirements related to administration, conversion rates and physical handling activities, thus simplifying market access by using a uniform language and criteria throughout the supply chain.

“It is hoped that existing and new certification schemes will be able to refer to the ISO standard for the terminology regarding chain-of-custody requirements, thus simplifying the conformity assessment for those various product certifications and reducing unnecessary duplication or misunderstanding.”

The committee has already attracted support for the development of the standard from organizations across many sectors, such as food, consumer goods, energy and construction, as well as certification schemes and government.

This article has been republished in full with permission from ISO.

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ANSI Seeks Comments on Integrating a Business Excellence Framework with Management System Standards

The International Organization for Standardization…

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has circulated a proposal to study how to integrate a business excellence framework with management system standards. Those interested in commenting on the proposal have until March 4 to submit their comments to American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) submitted the proposal to ISO, which states that organizations simultaneously implementing management systems with business excellence frameworks are often challenged by lack of alignment. This is due to multiple factors, including organizational design and structure, responsibilities matrix, contextual understanding of the linkages and interdependencies, silo mentality, and turf protection.

The proposal reads: “‘Guidelines on Integrating a Business Excellence Framework with ISO Management System Standards’ will provide the roadmap on integrating the national/international business excellence frameworks with management system standards, for enhancing organizational efficiency, facilitating effective decision-making, and promoting transparency, innovation, and continuous improvement.”

The field of work will exclude the development of an ISO business excellence standard and/or development of ISO management system standards. Instead, it will focus on the integration aspects, available best practices, and provision of useful practical tips for better organizational management.

Relevant stakeholders would include industry and commerce in large industry, SMEs, government, standards application businesses, and nongovernmental organizations, among others.

All interested stakeholders are invited to review the proposal, which includes the full listings of relevant documents at the international, regional, and national levels, as well as affected stakeholder categories that may benefit from or be impacted by the proposed standard.

Please submit comments to Steven Cornish, ANSI senior director of international policy (, by close of business on Friday, March 3, 2017. Based on the input received, the ANSI ISO Council will then be asked to approve an ANSI position and comments to be submitted to ISO before its April 12, 2017, deadline for voting on this proposal.

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