Who Develops ISO Standards? Report Surveys
Participation in Standards Creation
As international standards move into new areas
that affect environmental and social issues, the question
of who creates these standards becomes much more important.
New research by the Pacific Institute shows
that developed nations, and especially Western Europe, continue
to dominate standards development within the International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) - one of the oldest
and largest standards setting bodies.
And, surprisingly, although corporations make
up one of the largest groups of stakeholders in ISO's committee
developing environmental management standards, it is consultants,
registrars, and representatives from national standards
bodies who combined have the largest presence (40 percent
of the total participants).
"Who Develops ISO Standards? A Survey
of Participation in ISO's International Standards Development
Processes" -- a new report by Mari Morikawa and Jason
Morrison -- uses empirical data on ISO's membership and
participation at international meetings to draw these and
other conclusions about representation in ISO's standards
"We've long known that developing countries
are under-represented in ISO, but ISO is viewed by outsiders
as an industry-led institution - what is surprising is that
corporations are actually under-represented vis-à-vis
the 'standards industry' in one of ISO's largest and most
influential technical committees," noted Mari Morikawa,
a Research Associate with the Pacific Institute and co-author
of the report.
"ISO's been aware of the problem of unbalanced
regional and stakeholder representation for over 40 years,"
continued Jason Morrison, Director of the Economic Globalization
and the Environment Program and co-author of the report.
"And although it is disappointing that there has been
little real change over the past decades, there have been
some positive developments as of late, most notably the
manner in which ISO launched its initiative on Corporate
Social Responsibility. We hope our analysis will pave the
way for a more equitable balance of interests."
The report also found that:
· On average, Western Europe represents
almost half the voting base in ISO's standards development
work, despite representing approximately 6 percent of the
· Contrary to popular perception, development
of ISO's environmental management standards is not dominated
by industry: while industry does represent the largest single
stakeholder group, it only constitutes one third of total
participation at international meetings. Together, consultants,
registrars, and representatives from standards bodies make
up almost 40 percent of the participants attending Technical
Committee 207 meetings.
· In recent years, ISO has taken steps
to improve the balance of stakeholder representation in
its standard development processes, although these initiatives
have yet to demonstrate improvements in historical deficiencies
in participation by certain interests, namely government
and civil society representatives.
· Publicly available information on
the stakeholder representation in ISO standards development
is very limited. There is no consistent and systematic protocol
for tracking stakeholder participation, which in turn prevents
an assessment of whether, and the degree to which, input
from the full range of affected stakeholders is achieved.
Originally released: October