Partnerships with the private sector:
Industry practices

Alan Bryden

Alan Bryden, Secretary-General ISO (International Organization for Standardization)

Alan Bryden became Secretary-General of ISO on 1 March 2003. He began his career in metrology, notably with the USA's National Bureau of Standards (today the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and has a strong background in quality and the rational use of energy. He was previously Director General of the French national standards body, AFNOR, and Vice-President of the first Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade in GATT (now WTO).


ISO 14001 and ISO's toolbox for sustainable development

The ISO 14000 family of standards - of which the best known is the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems - includes new standards for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, verifying and validating claims made about them, and supporting emissions trading.

Today, the environment is on the agenda of almost everyone - business, government and society at large. To meet their environmental challenges, organizations everywhere, including the world's major business corporations, have made the ISO 14001 standard one of their principal tools.

At the same time, even young children can grasp the rudiments of ISO 14001 and are keen to participate in environmental programs such as:

ISO 14001 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, which was launched in 1993 to develop a holistic family of environmental management standards. Today, 70 countries participate in ISO/TC 207, along with another 27 as observers and 39 international or regional organizations, including UNCTAD, UNEP, WHO and WTO. The national delegations comprise environmental experts from business and industry, government, non-governmental organizations and technical bodies. Partnership is further encouraged by twinning ISO/TC 207 leadership positions between developed and developing countries.

The latest standards in the ISO 14000 family are ISO 14064, which provides requirements for organizations or persons to quantify and verify greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and ISO 14065, which specifies accreditation requirements for organizations that validate or verify resulting GHG emission assertions or claims.

Claims made about reductions of the greenhouse gas emissions widely held responsible for climate change may have political and financial implications, in addition to environmental and technical ones. Ensuring their credibility is thus vital, for example in emissions trading schemes. Therefore, ISO has combined its environmental and conformity assessment expertise to develop ISO 14064 and ISO 14065.

So far, ISO/TC 207 has developed 22 International Standards or related documents. Of these, ISO 14001, which was first released in 1996, is the best known. It gives the requirements for environmental management systems (EMS).

At the end of 2005, more than 111,000 certificates of conformity to ISO 14001 had been issued in 138 countries for environmental management systems operated by organizations large and small, in manufacturing and services, in public and private sectors. The standard is now thoroughly integrated with the global economy in roles such as the following:

The standard is likewise integrated in the rise of services in the global economy - 31% of ISO 14001 certificates in 2005 went to organizations in the service sectors, and in the transfer of good practice to developing countries and transition economies.

Other standards and guidelines in the ISO 14000 family address specific environmental aspects, including: environmental labeling, performance evaluation, life-cycle analysis, communication and auditing.

The ISO 14000 family is the most visible part of ISO's work for the environment. However, ISO also offers a wide-ranging portfolio of standardized sampling, testing and analytical methods for the monitoring of such aspects as the quality of air, water and soil. These standards are a means of providing business and government with scientifically valid data on the environmental effects of economic activity.

Taken as a whole, ISO's current portfolio of some 16,500 standards has even more to offer. Its standards for products, services, materials, systems and good practice promote efficiency and effectiveness in economic activities, while standards relating to health, safety and security, and new work on social responsibility have clear societal benefits.

ISO International Standards therefore constitute a toolbox not only for the environmental integrity of the planet, but also for economic growth and social equity - in other words, for all three dimensions of sustainable development.