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2020: APAC Moves to the Virtual World

Aparna Dhawan

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw the world exploring options to use technology to continue working and communicating effectively with colleagues. The Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) community was no exception and used virtual and online platforms to conduct international trainings, meetings and evaluations. The process began with APAC drafting and releasing a technical document APAC TEC-001 “Guidance on Remote Assessment”. APAC organised webinars on the topics “Audit and Assessment in a virtual world” and “How to achieve successful remote assessments”. These webinars and a guidance presentation were made available on the APAC website to help support accreditation bodies during the transition from in-person to virtual assessments.

APAC developed APAC MRA-009 “Performing Remote Evaluations” and delivered training to enable planned evaluations to be conducted remotely to ensure the obligations of the APAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) continue to be met.

APAC shifted all scheduled training to online delivery in order to maintain continuity in the face of COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Training topics included the accreditation of person certification (ISO/IEC 17024), calibration and measurement uncertainty (ISO/IEC 17025), product certification (ISO/IEC 17065), food safety management system certification (ISO TS 22003) and energy management system certification (ISO 50003). APAC also hosted a webinar to support accreditation bodies with their ongoing stakeholder engagement.

This work will continue into 2021, with the delivery of online training and webinars for the accreditation of greenhouse gas verification (ICAO CORSIA), reference material producers (ISO 17034) and proficiency testing providers (ISO/IEC 17043), medical testing (ISO 15189) and Point-of-Care-Testing (ISO 22870), biobanks (ISO 20387), anti-bribery management system certification, business continuity management system (BCMS) certification, environmental management system certification, medical device quality management system certification, GLOBALG.A.P. certification and food safety schemes.

The APAC Executive Committee, Technical Committees 1 and 2, Capacity Building Committee (CBC) and Communications and Promotion Committee (CPC) meetings all took place online. The APAC General Assembly, which was also held virtually, confirmed the APAC MRA Council’s recommendation to add Biobanking and Business Continuity Management Systems (BCMS) to the APAC MRA.

The APAC CPC recently adopted a Stakeholder Engagement Plan and established working groups to review APAC’s engagement with the health sector, food regulators, business organizations and senior corporate executives, the government procurement sector, and consumers in the Asia Pacific region. Activities will be coordinated with the communication and marketing activities of IAF and ILAC.

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