Update from Debbie Chin
International Standards meeting in India
Last month I attended the 34th General Assembly of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), held in New Delhi and hosted by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). This is the second time BIS has hosted an ISO General Assembly. The last time was in 1964, when ISO had 50 national members. Today, the organisation is a network of the national Standards bodies of 163 countries.
It was quite an experience to attend the meeting in a country that last year recorded one of the fastest growth rates in the world, with electronics and IT the fastest-growing segment of Indian industry. The issues covered at the Assembly were wide-ranging and included fostering innovation and building competitive advantage for industry, tackling the challenges of global sustainability, and the economic benefits of Standards.
In relation to global sustainability, ISO President, Dr Boris Aleshin, in his opening address, emphasised the importance of team work to ISO's contributions to the objectives of an important event coming up next year, Rio+20. This United Nations' conference will review the progress of sustainable development resolutions that came from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, often referred to as the Earth Summit.
Dr Aleshin said that in 'taking stock 20 years after the Earth Summit, ISO can point to having developed many practical tools to help the international community tackle the challenges of sustainability'. He pointed out examples of ISO Standards published in recent years or under development that address sustainability challenges as varied as social responsibility, information and societal security, response to climate change, energy efficiency and renewable resources, sustainable building design and operation, fair and transparent contract procurement, water services, nanotechnologies, and intelligent transport systems. In my mind, New Zealand is not investing enough in these areas of activity. If you would like to share your views please email email@example.com.
And there are more to come. In the next few years, ISO will be able to offer Standards on key sustainability issues such as the carbon footprint of products, asset management, energy savings, human resource management, natural gas fuelling stations for vehicles, outsourcing, and biogas.
'Vital relationship' between Standards and trade
Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Pascal Lamy, told attendees at the General Assembly that there was a 'vital relationship' between the WTO and ISO.
'The work you do – the work of setting Standards – is crucial for international trade'.
Mr Lamy said that two key WTO Agreements (the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures) 'explicitly urge regulators to base their measures on relevant international Standards to avoid unnecessary barriers to trade. These Agreements go as far as to say that measures that are based on relevant international Standards are assumed to be in compliance with WTO rules'.
The full statement can be seen at http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1463
Developing a national approach to Standards development
On the issue of the economic benefits of Standards, I mentioned in last month's Touchstone that, for the first time in New Zealand, we had real evidence of the economic benefits of Standards through research we commissioned from Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL). The BERL study reveals that a more coordinated approach to Standards development could result in a 1% increase or $2.4 billion gain to our economy.
The Standards Council is keen to develop a more coordinated approach to Standards development. Council members are approaching industry, government, and the community to ask them to work with us to identify those parts of the economy where Standards could provide real productivity, innovation, quality, safety, and competitive gains. Standards Council chair, John Lumsden, discusses this approach on our website at http://www.standards.co.nz/news/Associated+news.htm
New Handbook to accompany Timber-framed buildings Standard, NZS 3604:2011
We have just published a new Handbook – SNZ HB 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings: Selected extracts from NZS 3604:2011. The need for a product containing extracts from the Standard was identified during the development of NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.
This new Handbook provides users with a collection of figures and tables from NZS 3604 that are typically used on-site – it directs them to the appropriate section of the Standard for full information. It's essential that users not view the Handbook as a substitute for NZS 3604. For more information please see the full article.
World Standards Day 14 October 2011
The annual day for celebrating Standards globally is 14 October and the theme for this year is 'Creating confidence globally'. Confidence comes from trust, safety, minimal risk, quality assurance, reliability, certainty, efficiency, and effectiveness, all of which are offered by Standards. And it is not just products and equipment that these qualities apply to. Today, Standards are also applied to such wide-ranging areas as the environment, worker safety and management, risk management, social responsibility, energy management, and road traffic safety management systems.
Interestingly, one of ISO's biggest-selling Standards is ISO 31000:2009 Risk management – Principles and guidelines. This was the first international document ever to deal with the management of risk that had been developed by consensus, and it has been adopted by many major global economies, as well as emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
ISO 31000 (published here as AS/NZS ISO 31000) can be used to address risk at any level and on any subject. ISO 31000's origins are from this corner of the globe. AS/NZS 4360 was the forerunner to ISO 31000 and HB 436:2004 Risk management guidelines – Companion to AS/NZS 4360:2004 was developed as a companion to AS/NZS 4360. The Handbook, currently being revised, provides generic guidance for establishing and implementing effective risk management processes in any organisation. It demonstrates how to establish the proper context, and then how to identify, analyse, evaluate, treat, communicate and monitor risks. In other words, it allows its users to have significant confidence in a successful end result.
Standards New Zealand recertified for our quality management system
Another well-known and much used International Standard is the global benchmark for quality management – ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems – Requirements (published here as AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008). I am very pleased to advise that Standards New Zealand has recently been recertified as compliant to AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008. This means we have demonstrated that we have a quality management system enabling us to consistently meet customer, statutory, and regulatory requirements, and build confidence. Standards New Zealand is committed to continuous improvement and quality principles. Read more in our Touchstone story Continuous improvement helps Standards New Zealand to create value through standardisation.