ISO standards help meet SDGs says World Bank Group expert

Trade and standards are key for meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), said Cecile Fruman, World Bank Group Director, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practices. Fruman was speaking at the opening of the annual meeting of the ISO Committee on developing country matters (DEVCO), which took place in Beijing, China, on 11 September 2016.

The SDGs are a priority for the World Bank Group. “We are proud to have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ISO, and it’s heartening to note that ISO addresses a number of the SDGs directly.” Fruman cited ISO 26000 on social responsibility as an example of a standard contributing to sustainable development. “It is the most comprehensive guidance of what an organization should do to contribute to sustainable development. More broadly, ISO’s portfolio of more than 21 000 standards provides practical tools for all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, environmental and societal.”

For Fruman, a number of key global trends will impact our collective capacity to meet the SDGs’ ambitious targets: demographic change; urbanization; pressure on resources; climate change; and the evolution of globalization. “All of them are likely to both shape the environment for standards and also be shaped by standards,” she said. But standards’ contribution to trade is particularly important.

According to Fruman, trade addresses all SDGs. Take, for example, SDG Goal 2 to end hunger – trade barriers have meant that only 5 % of African food staples are sourced from the continent itself, even though the potential is there to meet their own food security needs. Trade can also boost gender equality (Goal 5) through the creation of economic opportunities, and drive innovation (Goal 9).

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