IAF Liaisons

Now is the Hour to Seize the Power of Conformity Assessment

Cristina Draghici
Head, Conformity Assessment and Consumer Matters, ISO

When ISO leaders announced the signing of the London Declaration at the recent General Assembly, it wasn’t the first nor the last organization to commit to change or actions that contribute to net-zero carbon emissions and commitments such as the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many governments, businesses, cities and states have declared their intentions, with many more initiatives and agreements expected to be announced at COP26 in the coming weeks. Yet the difference is that ISO’s declaration – which is to ensure ISO standards accelerate the achievement of such commitments – is one that can underpin them all. International Standards are powerful tools, providing international best practice and common languages to support the actions, technologies, measurement and benchmarking that are necessary to halt global warming and get carbon emissions down.

However, the value of International Standards cannot be truly realized without conformity assessment. Let’s take the example of ISO 14001, Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, the world’s most widely known and used standard for improving an organization’s environmental management. Through specifying the requirements for an environmental management system, an organization can set and achieve clear objectives in line with its environmental policies. Yet it is only through conformity to this standard that the organization can demonstrate to stakeholders the commitments it has made and the actions it is taking. 

This also holds true for ISO 50001, Energy management systems – Requirements with guidance for use. This standard provides a framework for managing energy performance and addressing energy costs, while helping companies reduce their environmental impact to meet emissions reduction targets. While implementing the standard can bring enormous benefits, obtaining certification to it helps organizations prove to the world the good work they have done. It provides evidence of their accountability, thus improving their reputation, building trust within their stakeholder groups and customers and encouraging others to do the same.

Another example is the ISO 1406x series of standards for greenhouse gas emissions. This series not only provides guidance and methodologies for calculating and reporting emissions, it also includes standards for validating those calculations and even for ensuring that those doing the auditing are competent to do so.

Conformity to International Standards, then, is one of the world’s best ways to address the challenges our planet faces, because it ensures the standards are implemented correctly and builds the confidence and trust that is needed for real change to take place. Checking, and then checking those who check, brings with it the added advantage of increasing transparency and accountability, both of which are key ingredients of good governance.

Now, more than ever before, we cannot afford to lose ground. This is our last chance to get it right, and it is only through the work of conformity assessment and accreditation that we can be sure that the standards that help us achieve the SDGs are being implemented in the most transparent and effective ways possible.

Categories: IAF Liaisons