Future casting: The path to 2030 at the ISO General Assembly

Carmen Sanjai Cape Town

Carmen Mak, Manager Standards New Zealand and Sanjai Raj, Standards New Zealand Executive and General Manager Consumer Protection and Standards at MBIE, attended the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) annual General Assembly (known as ISO Week) in mid-September.

The week of discussions held in Cape Town, South Africa, was focused on defining ISO’s future strategy under the theme ‘On the path to 2030’.

'This direction set the tone and content for the week,' says Carmen. 'ISO’s current five-year strategy is about to end and it was seeking input from members around what the strategy for the next 10 years should be.'

Socialised with delegates were the proposed new ISO vision: ‘Making people’s lives easier, safer and better’, and the mission: ‘Through our network of members we develop international standards to support global trade, drive inclusive and equitable economic growth, advance innovation, protect health and improve safety, and create a sustainable future.’

'While there was an opportunity for discussion and feedback, there was also general acceptance of the vision and mission by ISO members,' Carmen adds. 'To help us understand the challenge of this path towards 2030, we took the opportunity to listen to global experts explaining trends in the world of international standards.'

Disruptive forces impacting standards community

Several disruptive forces were identified:

  • Economic and trade uncertainty, impacting developing countries in particular.
  • Changing societal expectations.
  • The impact of climate change and the risks to transport infrastructure.
  • Digital transformation, including a call for the standardisation community to embrace this change.

Several priorities also emerged from the ISO Week. 'These include advancing diversity and inclusiveness in the ISO system, accelerating the time-to-market of ISO standards, and innovating to exceed users’ needs. It was reassuring to see that these mirrored elements of our own business strategy,' Carmen says.

Digital innovation focus confirmed

'In particular, I received good insights from a panel discussion on digital transformation, where experts highlighted the importance of considering the perspectives of users and customers when thinking about the useability of standards,' she adds.

'Those who use our standards may have a different perspective to standards committee members on how a standard is drafted, and ideas on how to make it more usable.

'In this vein, it was good to see we aren’t the only standards organisation in the process of converting our standards into XML format for electronic publishing. This reinforced that we’re taking the right path with our digital workstream,' Carmen says.

'We also talked about standards being part of the overall quality infrastructure, which includes accreditation, conformity, testing and measurement. It is important for the overall infrastructure to operate well to ensure that we get good outcomes in areas such as international trade and health and safety.'

Published in international.