Skip to main content

Standards New Zealand welcomes international standards leaders

IEC international standards leaders from Geneva and Singapore share conversations on the latest topics at the heart of standardisation.

IEC leaders and SNZ staff

Standards New Zealand’s National Manager Malcolm MacMillan, Commercial & Sectors Manager Danielle Aberdeen, IEC Secretary General Philippe Metzger, IEC New Zealand National Committee (NZNC) Chair Peter Berry and Standards New Zealand Senior Advisor International Engagement Steve Lowes.

We had the privilege of playing host to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Secretary General Philippe Metzger and Asia Pacific Regional Director Dennis Chew. Philippe and Dennis made time to visit New Zealand, following the ISO Annual Meeting in Brisbane and shared updates on standards on the horizon and under development.

For over 40 years New Zealand, through a national committee of volunteers and individual subject matter experts, has had representation on the international stage for standards development. Standards New Zealand provides essential secretariat duties finding new committee members for hundreds of standards under development. IEC standards lie behind the quality control and interoperability of many of the electrical appliances found in New Zealand homes and businesses, including those for energy distribution and medical appliances.

Three sessions presented on environmental sustainability, digitalisation and international standardisation with guest presenters and standards committee representatives Bryan King from the New Zealand Lighting Council, Brian Fitzgerald from EECA (Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority) and IEC young professional alumni, engineer and data specialist Thahirah Jalal from Transpower.

What was abundantly clear was the importance of the human factor behind standards, and the essential role standards (and people volunteering on standards development committees) play by coming together to agree solutions to shared problems. There was also opportunity for an environmental scan of standards on the horizon – those for functional safety, smart digital standards, active assisted living and cyber security or those for green hydrogen and greenhouse gas emissions verification, biological convergence, quantum, metaverse and AI, the latter with a particular focus on ethics, trust and transparency and responsible adoption.

Collaboration is essential for developing standards, and as Philippe said, ‘when designing our common future, we can’t do it on our own’. Standards bodies across the globe are pushing to get greater diversity in standards development committees, with active promotion for gender diversity and younger professionals. Philippe encouraged the younger generation to step up and have the ambition to innovate new ways to do things, while remaining competitive to bring new ideas and perspectives to the table for others to consider when coming to consensus.

Standards make a difference to so much around us and prevent anyone having to reinvent the wheel – they set performance benchmarks, provide security, protect consumers, improve business efficiency, open doorways to trade and give businesses and their customers quality assurance. Knowing what others are working on or have already developed means when we need to update policy, or implement practices, we can turn to tried and tested guidance already in place. While we can dip into global guidance, we also shouldn’t underestimate the value of New Zealand’s expertise and perspective and through membership of international standards bodies we have as much ability to sway the standards we use as any other country.

Each year Standards New Zealand adopts a number of international IEC standards, and we also source, approve and appoint New Zealand technical experts to participate in international standards development activities across a range of electrotechnical and others areas, critical to New Zealand’s economy.

Peter Berry, Philippe Metzger and Dennis Chew.

Transpower's Thahirah Jalal presents on standards used in data flow