A Common Language for a Sustainable Future – World Standards Day

WSDToday on the annual World Standards Day, the spotlight is put on “A Common Language”. ECOS believes that standards can contribute towards developing a common language for all societal stakeholders, which is a vital in order to protect and promote the environment. Specifically, standards can provide a mutual understanding of EU policy objectives in the environmental area, through setting common definitions, rules, and also guidance on how to achieve those objectives.

An example of this is the promotion of sustainable biofuels in the Renewable Energy Sources Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC), enabling countries to meet their 2020 energy targets in the transport sector. Standard EN 16214 helps define which biofuels will be considered sustainable and sets rules for their production and certification.

Nevertheless, a language is only common if it is agreed upon and understood by all; from policy-makers and national authorities to industry and societal stakeholders. While promoting the principles of transparency and inclusiveness for a future-proof standardisation system, we would like to remind the standardisation community what these principles actually mean, and how they should be implemented in practice.

In a language commonly used and understood by societal stakeholders, transparency and inclusiveness should translate into ensuring a balanced representation of interests. This would allow for the effective participation of societal stakeholders in standardisation across national, European, and international levels. At European level, this would require – among others – the establishment of a separate category of partnership with appropriate rights for societal stakeholders’ organisations within the European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs), allowing them to contribute effectively, keeping the best interests of both the environment, and the public, at heart. This would include a formal right of opinion at the time of the final adoption of a standard. ECOS hopes that this language can be endorsed by the wider standardisation community, and standardisers in particular.

Our vision and recommendations for the development of standards to be made within an open, transparent, and balanced standardisation system, in order to effectively contribute towards the protection of the environment and the welfare of European citizens, can be found here.