Recognizing the importance of standardization in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the IEC organized a networking session to discuss the implementation of the SDGs on 11 November.
Hosted by Vimal Mahendru, IEC Ambassador, it included an eclectic group of ten participants representing Africa, Europe, North America and Australasia, as well as the United Nations.
The SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, addressing global challenges such as poverty, inequality and climate change. They recognize the interdependence between the goals and the importance of stakeholders in the private and public sector working together to achieve them.
According to Mahendru, because the development of the past 100 years has been uneven, the SDGs offer an opportunity to bring the global community together and bridge the divide.
Why are the SDGs important?
The discussion began with the panellists providing their thoughts on the importance of the SDGs. Responses included finding ways to share resources, reduce inequality and bringing environmental security alongside prosperity.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to reflect on the current situation and the impact of our actions.
The role of standards
Mahendru asked how standards can contribute to achieving the SDGs. While there is no direct link in the standards, he noted that all SDGs are impacted in some way by standards. They offer tools to help achieve the SDGs.
According to Lorenza Jachia from the United Nations, “Standards are vital to the SDGs and we need them”. She mentioned the UN project that promoted the link between standards and the SDGs: https://standards4sdgs.unece.org/
As the safety expert Coen van Gulijk noted, “Standards are the codification of knowledge. Experts come together and discussions takes place. The IEC has an important role in ensuring that different perspectives are heard in the process”. The IEC recently published a white paper, Safety in the future, which highlights the importance of safety in achieving the SDGs.
Electricity access is an area that highlights the importance of the SDGs to several participants. For one panellist, the provision of electricity can be intermittent which affects refrigeration and food security. In addition, energy access is vital for other areas such as healthcare and education.
The IEC provides a number of standards that help achieve SDG 7 on energy access. It has worked together with Lighting Global to ensure that products that enable energy access meet minimum performance and safety requirements.
Responsible use of resources
Overconsumption and the use of natural resources as addressed in SDG 12 is another area where standards can help. Solange Blaszkowski, Chair of the IEC Advisory Committee for Environmental Affairs (ACEA) noted that the circular economy can provide a response to better use resources. However, standards will be needed that can address issues such as, for example, the safety of a reused component.
Consumers will also need to change their mindset and whether they want products that last longer. While this may be the case for some products like washing machines it may not hold true for mobile phones.
IEC has a portfolio of publications that address the circular economy including:
- IEC 62430: Environmentally Conscious Design
- IEC TR 62635: End of Life information / recyclability rate calculation
- IEC TR 62824: Material Efficiency considerations in ECD
- IEC 62309: Dependability of products containing reused parts
- IEC 62402: Obsolescence management
- IEC 63077: Refurbishment for medical imaging equipment
Mahendru closed the session by thanking the participants: Solange Blaszkowski, Gabriela Ehrlich, Lorenza Jachia, Chris Moller, Carlos Perez, James Sankar, Coen van Gulijk, and Anne Wacera Wambugu. Together they toasted the global community of standardization and the SDGs.
About the networking sessions
As part of its virtual 2020 General Meeting currently underway, the IEC is organizing moderated networking sessions on topics such as the circular economy, artificial intelligence, cyber security and 5G. These sessions can be viewed live on Facebook. The recordings are made available on Facebook and YouTube.