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Standards are the way the world can move from commitment to action for measurable impact, said leading climate and standardization experts at an official COP27 side event, held in Sharm El-Sheikh today.
Organized by ISO, the side event created synergies around what is needed to strengthen our commitments into action, including how to improve cross-sector collaboration and accelerate our transition to a low-carbon economy. The session closes off ISO’s two-week participation at COP27 where the landmark Net Zero Guidelines were launched.
Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its devastating impacts is imperative of ISO and its members. There is already an abundance of standards and policies that can help. What’s lacking is the analysis and coordination of these, the identification of those that are working particularly well, and where duplication lies.
Christoph Winterhalter, ISO Vice-President (policy), the session moderator, explained: “We have the foundation, resources and industry experts to take global action,” he said. “There are already numerous policy tools and standards available that help address climate change mitigation, ensuring greater consistency and providing international benchmarks to increase the impact of any global effort. It is increasingly clear that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just realign it.”
Trade plays an important role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Conducted through global value chains that link producers in developing countries to consumers around the globe, trade is largely regulated through voluntary standards. Speaking at the ISO pavilion at COP27, Joe Wozniak, who manages the Trade for Sustainable Development Programme (T4SD) at the International Trade Centre (ITC), says voluntary standards, such as those produced by ISO, present a fabulous opportunity for companies to embed social and environmental sustainability into their processes.
In the context of climate change, however, the trend towards more robust legislation in the sphere of business and commerce is accelerating – with a push for mandatory regulations as soon as 2024. This comes at a time when many companies, particularly SMEs, are under a lot of economic pressures due to rising energy prices and inflation. And while most companies understand the need to go green, they often lack the technical know-how and financing to do so.
“The regulatory environment is changing,” says Wozniak, but having ISO standards that are aligned with the regulations being developed could help smooth that transition. When these legislations come into being, we need to provide solutions that will help suppliers to meet the standards, and do so in a way that reduces their costs. ISO and ITC can do a lot together to aid in this process. “At ITC, we stand ready to work with ISO in that area,” he concludes.
Innovation in the field of climate action is crucial when it comes to building much-needed climate and sustainability solutions. This was the key theme of today’s Global Innovation Hub, attended by ISO Deputy Secretary-General Silvio Dulinsky. Organized by the UNFCCC, the session discussed the importance of transformative solutions for climate action and how to boost the scale and effectiveness of innovation through standards.
A “moonshot mindset” is needed for transformative solutions to emerge, said Massamba Thioye, Project Executive at the UNFCCC Global Innovation Hub. Referring to ISO’s Net Zero Guidelines, launched at COP27 last week, he emphasized the importance of “setting bold goals to go beyond what already exists” and highlighted the crucial role of standardization in this process. “When developing standards, the starting point is the purpose,” he said, stating the importance of learning from experience.
Reaffirming ISO’s commitment to climate action, Silvio Dulinsky assured participants of the organization’s enduring efforts to place climate action at the heart of standards. ISO, he said, is also in the process of mapping its portfolio of standards to ensure it continues to have a “strong and positive impact” on climate. “Our short-term ambition is to bring concrete solutions to businesses and regulators around the world, prioritizing real human needs in different sectors such as mobility, health and more,” he said.