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The role of standards in a changing world


If they are to be used, standards will have to keep up with what is happening on the market.

Dr Howard Porter, CEO of BEAMA and board member of ORGALIME.


BSI Conference

Standards increasingly matter wherever you go and whatever you do. On Thursday 22nd of June, the BSI Group hosted a one day conference in Edinburgh to discuss some of the major questions coming up in the field of standardization.

The event gathered standards professionals from 50 countries representing standards bodies, consumer organizations, intergovernmental bodies, business, NGOs and academia, to discuss how standards can support international trade, how they can help build smarter and better regulation, how modern ICT can be used in standard setting processes and how standards can contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"Standards make our lives safer, more prosperous and more sustainable", said David Bell, Head of Standards Policy Team of the BSI Group, opening the conference.

FAO HQ Rome, Italy

However, in the UK alone there are currently 37,000 standards. At the international level, ISO has published over 21,000 private standards and in the area of food safety and quality Codex has set over 300 standards and nearly 10,000 permitted levels of additives, contaminats and chemical residues.

Greater collaboration

In the face of new challenges in a changing world (climate change, growing populations and digital connectivity) the clear message from particpants in the conference was that this wealth of existing standards – be they private or governmental, national or international – calls for greater collaboration and cooperation. 

"The post-2015 development agenda provides a unique opportunity for private and public standard setters alike to actually map which standards are out there, discover gaps and needs,  and get rid of unnecessary duplications to help measure and achieve the SDGs", said Farooq Ullah, Director of Stakeholder Forum.

Codex is not alone in its endeavor to ensure public safety and fair practices in trade through the development of international standards. Part of the first goal in the current Strategic Plan of the Codex Alimentarius Commission is to strengthen coordination and cooperation with other international standard setting organizations to avoid duplication of efforts and optimize opportunities. Events like the BSI Conference are a welcome opportunity to learn more about how others deal with the same or similar challenges.

To find out more about the event click here.