IAF Members' news

Sustainability, Self-Regulation, and Conformity Assessment in India

Abhinav Bajaj
Accreditation Officer, NABCB, Quality Council of India


India, as part of its ‘panchamrit’ (5-point) plan at the COP26 global summit in October 2021, announced that it will reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and will reach carbon neutrality by 2070. This comes as a major development in light of India having the lowest per capita emissions of all the world’s major economies – emitting 5% in total even though it accounts for 17% of the world’s population. Despite this, India has, on several instances, reaffirmed its commitment towards United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs).

However, this doesn’t discount that between now and 2030, in order to maintain the current rate of economic growth (given current business practices), India could be emitting anywhere between 35-40 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases (with a year-on-year increase of four billion tonnes per year). Thus, cutting even one billion tonnes of emissions (in order to achieve the SDGs) could represent a reduction of 2.5 to 3% in absolute emissions in the next nine years which in turn could possibly impact the rate of economic growth. Thus, the only recourse in this regard would be a strong pivot toward integrating sustainability in the country’s economic growth plan for the foreseeable decade.


ISO standards continue to be used by regulators as a strong foundation for developing public policy that supports sustainable development objectives such as human rights, clean water and energy efficiency, public health, and more. However, another critical benefit of ISO standards is their use in achieving sustainability via self-regulation. ISO standards provide the foundation for various industry groups and their stakeholders to come together and lay requirements of conformity assessment by way of conformity assessment schemes (CASs). The ability of scheme owners to establish trust with stakeholders and quickly pivot themselves to new market requirements bridges the gap between two seemingly disparate objectives of serving society and retaining profitability; while ensuring the certified/inspected entity perseveres in the market for the long term. The recent publication of IAF MD 25:2022 Criteria for Evaluation of Conformity Assessment Schemes is a welcome step of reaffirming CASs in the accreditation fold.

Thus, an ideal organization looking to not just survive but thrive over the long term would do well to instil a self-improving mechanism that addresses all stakeholders. It can do so by addressing SDGs conforming to relevant CAS requirements and go beyond ‘doing the bare minimum’- meeting governmental and regulatory requirements.


Voluntary conformity assessment through CASs is now re-asserting itself as the quintessential method to operate a constantly adapting and improving framework of self-regulation, i.e., a robust body of work to methodically convert tacit knowledge present in the industry into aggregated rules and processes of operation. In industrial circles, this is commonly known as ‘good regulation’ or ‘positive regulation’. This form of ‘good regulation’ goes beyond mere governmental compliance and encompasses prescriptive modus operandi growing out from within the industry and provides the technique to truly move toward undertaking sustained efforts with regard to environmental responsibility that will not only enable India to perform well against the SDGs but also create a whole new ecosystem of self-regulation working in tandem with voluntary third-party accredited certification.

Conformity assessments are NOT the tools but the tool-box; providing the framework of periodic evaluation & certification as well as promoting self-regulatory standardization, all the while supporting sustainable economic growth for the future of the planet.

Categories: IAF Members' news