14 October is World Standards Day and offers an opportunity to raise awareness and increase understanding of the importance of standardization. Standards touch almost every part of our daily lives. They ensure that products and services work the way that we expect them to, making life safer and more enjoyable. Standards are essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda and creating a fairer, more sustainable world.
International standards bring technological, economic and societal benefits. They help to harmonize specifications of products and services, making industry more efficient and breaking down barriers to international trade. Conformity to international standards can help reassure consumers that products and services are safe, efficient and environmentally responsible.
Everybody deserves access to clean water, adequate sanitation, decent housing and electricity – standards solve the technical challenges that are essential to human dignity, helping us achieve our shared vision for a better world.
World Standards Day
Taking place every year on 14 October, World Standards Day (WSD) offers an opportunity to raise awareness and increase understanding of the importance of standardization. It is a collaborative initiative of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who each year develop campaign elements to empower the global community, including you, to join the movement.
Since 2021, World Standards Day is held under the theme “Shared Vision for a Better World“, a multi-year campaign to increase understanding of how international standards contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The objective is that by 2030, international standards are recognized as an integral part of the success of the SDGs. More information on events and campaigns for each edition can be found below:
Standards and the SDGs
Global collaboration is necessary to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The entire standards system is built on collaboration; it’s a testament to the power of multilateralism and the belief that we are stronger than the sum of our parts.
Achieving the SDGs will require the cooperation of many public and private partners, and the use of all available tools to disseminate best practice, including international standards and conformity assessment. By working together, we are empowering people with real-world solutions to face sustainability challenges head-on.
Each SDG is a call for action. While the SDGs cover many areas, in almost all cases, there’s a role for standards as they help in optimizing and adapting old processes and setting rules that make new ones work. Standards underpin the technology that connects us, shrinking distances and allowing access to knowledge, education and markets. Standards also act as accelerators in providing and implementing solutions. In creating infrastructure that helps people to live together and makes the best use of resources can’t be left to improvisation, it takes a tried-and-tested approach agreed by experts – standards.
Role of Geneva
Organizations are listed in alphabetical order
The Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and other international NGOs to ensure projects that reduced carbon emissions featured the highest levels of environmental integrity and also contributed to sustainable development. With the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, we launched a best practice standard for climate and sustainable development interventions, Gold Standard for the Global Goals, to maximize impact, creating value for people around the world and the planet we share.
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
The IEC is a global, not-for-profit membership organization, whose work underpins quality infrastructure and international trade in electrical and electronic goods. Its work facilitates technical innovation, affordable infrastructure development, efficient and sustainable energy access, smart urbanization and transportation systems, climate change mitigation, and increases the safety of people and the environment. The IEC also brings together more than 170 countries and provides a global, neutral and independent standardization platform to 20,000 experts globally. IEC international standards serve as the basis for risk and quality management and are used in testing and certification to verify that manufacturer promises are kept.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
The ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 166 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. Currently, the ISO has more than 24,000 international standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing. In its London Declaration, the ISO has also committed to climate change and attain net-zero goals.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)
The PEFC is a leading global alliance of national forest certification systems. As an international non-profit, non-governmental organization, it is dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification. The PEFC has international standards that are applied directly in the field such as the Chain of Custody, Trademarks and Certification Body Requirements for Chain of Custody, used by thousands of companies, certification bodies and accreditation bodies around the world. National forest certification systems also use the PEFC’s benchmark standards – Sustainable Forest Management – to develop their national standards.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
The Steering Committee on Trade Capacity and Standards of UNECE oversees and guides the development of international norms and standards, procedures and best practices for reducing transaction costs associated with export and import processes and increasing the efficiency, predictability and transparency of trade regulations and procedures. Among the standards and recommendations are for fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, cut flowers, seed potatoes, and dried fruits.
United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS)
UNFSS addresses the sustainable development value of voluntary sustainability standards by pooling resources, synchronizing efforts, and assuring policy coherence, coordination and collaboration among United Nations agencies. It helps producers, traders, consumers, standard-setters, certification-bodies, trade diplomats, non-governmental organizations and researchers to talk to each other, find out more about Voluntary Sustainability Standards and influence decision makers at the intergovernmental level.
World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), developed the Codex Alimentarius international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of this international food trade. Consumers can trust the safety and quality of the food products they buy and importers can trust that the food they ordered will be in accordance with their specifications.
World Standards Cooperation (WSC)
The World Standards Cooperation is a high-level collaboration between the IEC, ISO and ITU. Under this banner, the three organizations preserve their common interests in strengthening and advancing the voluntary consensus-based International Standards system. Through the WSC, contradictory content and unnecessary costs can be avoided, making life simpler for standards makers, users, and end-consumers.
- Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS)
- European standards for the SDGs | CEN & CENELEC
- Understanding Voluntary Sustainability Standards: A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis | UNCTAD | 14 April 2023
- Voluntary Sustainability Standards in International Trade | UNCTAD | 20 December 2022
- Voluntary Sustainability Standards Sustainability Agenda and Developing Countries: Opportunities and Challenges | UNFSS | October 2022
- How digitalization impacts safety | ISO | 7 October 2021
- Are universal sustainability standards and ESG reporting the key to net zero? | Forbes | 5 October 2021
- How public-private collaboration can drive effective digital climate action | ITU | 27 September 2021
- Climate change worried investors impose new standards to Oil and Gas industry | Business Review | 20 September 2021
- New ITU standards project to define a sustainability passport for digital products | ITU | 16 July 2021
- IEC publishes a white paper on the future of safety | IEC | 20 November 2020