The voluntary International Standards developed by IEC and ISO don’t seek to establish or motivate public policy, regulations, social or political agendas, however they can provide valuable support to the implementation of public policy.
Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards to support public policy aims to help public policy makers understand and achieve the benefits of using IEC and ISO International Standards to support public policy initiatives. It also aims to stimulate dialogue between standards development organizations and public policy makers.
Engagement allows policy makers to stay informed of and provide input into ongoing developments in international standardization that they may find useful. Engagement also allows policy makers to help ensure that IEC and ISO International Standards complement government efforts.
What is an IEC or ISO International Standard?
IEC and ISO International Standards represent global consensus on a solution to a particular issue. They provide requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are safe to use and fit for their purpose
International Standards are developed in a multi-stakeholder environment which ensures that a wide range of technical views are represented, including those relating to social and economic interests.
What makes IEC and ISO International Standards useful to public policymakers?
International Standards and public policy often share similar objectives – for example, enhancing economic competitiveness and efficiency, and facilitating international trade. Therefore International Standards are useful tools for policy makers for a number of reasons. Firstly, the use of IEC and ISO International Standards is consistent with the obligations to reduce technical barriers to trade of countries that are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Secondly, International Standards, by their very nature, are powerful instruments of governance because of the impact their use can have on goods, services and on quality of life.
And finally, there are a number of important parallels between good policy-making practice and good standardization practice, which has led to the use and referencing of international standards becoming widely and increasingly considered as forming part of good regulatory practice and good public governance.
UNECE Common Regulatory Framework
One example of this approach being used comes from the UNECE Common Regulatory Framework for equipment used in environments with an explosive atmosphere which recommends that regulators use IEC and ISO International Standards supported by conformity assessment systems such as the IECEx. This approach saves regulators the cost of establishing and maintaining their own conformity assessment operations.
In December 2013, the Global Conference on Rural Energy Access organized by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), in collaboration with UN-Energy, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and UN Sustainable Energy for All (UN SE4ALL) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, recommended that “Technical standards for energy service delivery and energy systems appropriate for rural areas be developed to ensure quality and efficiency”. The IEC is providing access to the IEC 62257 series of Technical Specifications, including IEC TS 62257-9-5:2013, a publication on a selection of stand-alone lighting kits for rural electrification.
This highlights how IEC commitment to support the SE4ALL initiative can facilitate access to sustainable energy standards for various stakeholders in developing countries.
The brochure Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards to support public policy can be downloaded here.