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International conference to explore the role of standards in achieving the SDGs

International standards shape every aspect of our lives: from the moment we brush our teeth in the morning, to the time we wrap up in a warm – and safe - blanket at night. Standards also make the world more resilient and more sustainable: when houses, offices and plants comply with norms, they are safer in case of earthquakes and fires; they need less energy to run on, and are healthier for us to live in.

So standards are not just about companies: organizations of all kinds, including NGOs and public administrations, use standards every day to make their operations more sustainable: to minimize the carbon footprint of their products and services; to engage with local communities and stakeholders, and to gain market access and integrate global supply chains.

Even as standards play such a prominent role in our lives, their contribution to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is still far from well understood. Moreover, there are important challenges to overcome to exploit their full potential.

For example, you may be familiar with ecolabels and certification marks. These are important tools, telling us that a product has been expertly assessed for its safety, reliability or sustainability. Much too often, however, conflicting and overlapping standards, set by competing organizations or organizations which are not aware of each other leave us confused and unable to choose responsibly manufactured products and services. At the other end of the supply chain, firms struggle with the costs of multiple certifications, regulations and auditing, or, worse, falsified logos and certificates expose unaware workers and communities to risks.

Representatives of standards bodies - including ISO, IEC, WWF, ISEAL, GRI and MSC– and of UNECE and non-UNECE member States will get together to discuss these opportunities and challenges at the “Standards4SDGs” event (28-29 November 2017, Palais des Nations, Geneva).

“Credible standards based on multistakeholder, partnership approaches are key to achieving the SDGs” says Karin Kreider, Executive Director, ISEAL Alliance. Stephan Naundorf, Advisor to the Minister of State to the Chancellor in charge of better regulation, in the Federal Chancellery of Germany adds: “Standards have proved their value in making regulations easier to comply with, cutting compliance costs for citizens, businesses and administrations without compromising safety and well-being”.

UNECE acts as a convening platform to support partnerships among standards bodies, and between standards bodies and decision-makers in businesses, administrations, donor agencies and local communities. As part of this work, UNECE contributes to standardization issues including through recommendations on how to manage risks that confront companies, citizens and communities through regulations and standards.

Join the discussion: #standards4SDGs

For further information on the Conference, please visit: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=46052