Will ISO 26000 be revised or not?

Will ISO 26000 be revised or not?

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The 2017 systematic review ballot extended !

30 ISO country members voted: 12 in favor of updating ISO 26000:2010, 11 against revision and 7 abstained. The advisory ISO 26000 PPO interpreted the comments received with the weak majority in favor of revising the standard, and recommended ISO TMB to initiate a limited revision of ISO 26000. Such revision would update ISO 26000 based on the important developments since publication 7 years ago, for example

  • UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals
  • The final UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • The revised OECD MNE Guidelines
  • The relevant new ISO Standards, e.g. ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement: 2017, ISO 37001:2017 Anti-Bribery, ISO 20121:2012 Sustainable Events

More than 80 countries have adopted ISO 26000:2010 as national standard and thousands of companies and organizations are using it, many in developing countries. Perhaps this was the reason why last week ISO TMB decided that more countries need to cast their vote:  the ballot has been extended to October 25th. Let us hope the National Standards bodies will take time to consult their stakeholders and cast a vote so that ISO TMB can decide at their meeting in February. Please support your NSB in this process.

Some organisations are against revision

Some international organizations have contacted ISO and explained why they do not recommend a revision of ISO 26000:2010. ISO has replied that they can not centrally tell their 162 country members what to vote.

One of the statements from the international organizations arguing against a revision of ISO 26000 is
“The standard is aligned with international human and labour rights and standards, for example UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and revising ISO 26000 risk changing that and undermine international norms”

Comment: Many of us who were part of developing ISO 26000 would argue the other way around: ISO 26000 does not set any norms, it guides the user towards existing international norms. Therefore, ISO 26000 must be updated if these norms are updated. Organisations should always be offered guidelines that are updated and aligned with the key authoritative documents. If ISO 26000 is updated it will most likely support these international norms even stronger than in the 2010 version. After all, it was published before for example the SDGs, UNGPs and revised OECD MNE Guideline.

Another statement is
“The process through which ISO standards, and therefore ISO 26000, would be revised is not multi-stakeholder based.”

Comment: All existing 20 000 standards have been developed through the same process and at any given time there are at least 100 000 experts involved in ISO-standardization, centrally registered in one of seven stakeholder categories in order to track stakeholder balance. Nationally, outside the central international process, there are many hundreds of thousands of additional experts involved in the very important national committees.  Good international standardization follows the WTO-principles of openness, transparency, development dimension etcetera, and so does ISO.

Another statement:
“ISO members are never seen in the international public policy debate and therefore ISO should not develop international social standards such as ISO 26000”

Comment: The ISO-members are national standards bodies (NSBs) that provide a platform for national experts to input to international ISO standards. These experts come from all types of organizations and it is these organizations, not the NSBs, which participate in public policy. The NSBs consult their expert stakeholders that voluntarily participate in standardization and the NSBs can then vote in favor of standards that are relevant to their markets. ISO and its members are not developing standards that contradict national regulation or international authoritative documents. The term “social standard” is not used inside ISO 26000 nor is it used on ISO website. ISO sets standards for organizations to operationalize current state-of-the-art, not re-write societal norms or social standards.

Some organisations prepare for a revision

In order to prepare for a revision of ISO 26000 and other related standards such as ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement and ISO 20121 Sustainable Events, ISO member country Sweden has proposed to set up an ISO Technical Committee on Social Responsibility. There are already more than 200 Technical Committees (families of standards) in ISO e.g. Quality Management, Environmental Management, Solid Biofuels. 99 % of all 20 000 ISO standards are managed in TCs but the standards related to ISO 26000 and some 40 other standards are managed by ISO TMB.

The proposed TC SR would maintain and develop standards related to ISO 26000 and, if the participating member experts find it relevant, develop additional ones. Having such a technical committee on Social Responsibility would also help those 100 000 experts that are currently writing other standards. An example: “Human Rights” is currently mentioned more than 50 times in different ways and ISO-documents (see iso.org/obp). A TC SR can among other things make sure there is consistency in terms and definitions.

Existing and coming ISO-deliverables need to be consistent with international norms related social responsibility and sustainability. This can be a very important contribution from the ISO members to the much needed “speed up and scale up” of companies and organizations using international norms. There are more than 1,000,000 verified companies/organization verified using one of the ISO standards (ISO 9001 for quality management). Many million more organizations are using the other 20,000 ISO-standards in all parts of the world, developed or developing. Having a TC SR can help those millions of companies and organizations using ISO standards to also see and use the standards and international norms related to social responsibility.

The ISO members decide: the ballot for/against a proposed TC SR will close October 10 and then ISO TMB will interpret the results and decide.
Please support your NSB in this process.

PPO Recommendation to ISO TMB 2017

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The ISO 26000 Post Publication Organization has

  • after analyzing the 2016/17 systematic review/survey to ISO member countries and
  • having consulted with the 30+ strong stakeholder advisory group

sent the following recommendation to ISO Technical Management Board (TMB):

A revision of ISO 26000:2010 is needed:

Revision exclusively limited to updating and aligning the current text in ISO 26000: 2010
with recent changes in international authoritative documents. It is also recommended that
the following boundaries be set to the revision:

  • any changes shall be permitted only when having a clear connection to such
    international documents, and need to be fully justified and approved by the responsible
  • any new recommendations need to be fully justified and approved by the responsible
  • existing Recommendations should not be deleted, unless there is good justification
    and this is approved by the responsible committee;
  • maintain number and scope of principles, core subjects, issues and definitions;
  • reasonably maintain size and tone of the document;
  • if annexes are to be reviewed it should be in line with the existing criteria and
    procedures in ISO 26000:2010.

International documents to be considered for this alignment should be a matter of
consensus by the responsible committee at the beginning of the revision process, but
would include in principle: The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, UN
SDGs as set out in resolutions A/RES/70/1 (Agenda 2030), The OECD Guidelines for
Multinational Enterprises and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles for Multinational
Enterprises and Social Policy, and relevant ISO standards connected with to the core
subjects of ISO 26000. Other relevant international documents to be referenced during
the revision process other than these ones, can be included by the responsible committee,
if necessary, under the criteria of clear consensus among its members.

PPO urges ISO/TMB to decide that the revision process is carried out with at least as
strong procedures and balanced stakeholder engagement and regional balance that
characterized the development of ISO 26000:2010. This would greatly contribute to the
continued legitimacy of the standard and the process.

It is now up to the ISO TMB to decide if and how ISO 26000 is to be updated. Their next meeting is in Berlin in September.

Systematic review meeting

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PPO Secretariat met with the stakeholder advisory group on the topic “What do we recommend ISO to do based on the results of the systematic review 2017?”

The ISO member countries voted 11 CONFIRM (keep as it is) and 12 REVISE (update/change) with an additional 7 abstentions which are noted.
52 % in favour of revision is indeed a single majority, but a weak indication. Thus, the content of the technical comments sent together with the votes must be carefully analyzed and discussed before PPO Secretariat sends its recommendation to ISO TMB (who decides the next steps).

A preliminary interpretation of the stakeholder meeting advice taking the comments from the ISO member bodies:

  • we should not recommend only a minor revision (editorial, minor update)
  • we should not recommend only a partial revision (an amendment)
  • we should recommend a revision with limitations based on the comments

Some of the technical comments affecting such limitations that were discussed:

  • include updates made in key international instruments (NOTE: there are 170+ references in the bibliograph such as the ILO Conventions, UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, OECD Guidelines
  • include updates made in relevant ISO standards, e.g. ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement and ISO 37001 Anti-bribery management system
  • include Agenda 2030 and the SGDs

In addition, the “New Work Item Proposal” that set out the scope of ISO 26000 in 2005 is still valid. This means that much of the tone, scope, structure is expected to be similar in a future revised version.

PPO Secretariat is now developing a statement capturing the boundaries of a proposed revision. If TMB, after consulting with ISO 26000 PPO and others, finds that ISO 26000 should be revised, the international work is likely to start at the end of 2017 or beginning 2018.

PPO meeting SAG and NIN

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Valuable advice was given to the ISO 26000 Post Publication Organization secretariat during the meeting held February 24. Around 25 stakeholders attended from almost as many countries. We discussed the latest developments regarding ISO 37001, ISO 20121, the systematic review of ISO 26000, the basic training material translated in to Spanish, the preliminary result of the 2016 PPO survey to the national standards bodies.

The ISO 26000 newsletter in Egypt

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Over the past 4 years the national ISO member body in ISO, EOS, has published an ISO 26000 newsletters. More than 600 receive it and it goes to several countries. The January 2017 issues can be found here. Additional issues are available here.

ISO 26000 training in Spanish

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The basic training material has now been finalized thanks to the efforts of Adriana Rosenfeld and Karla Guerrera.

It is available here.

New linkage document between ISO 26000 and OECD MNE Guidelines

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Part of the ISO 26000 PPO work program is to develop linkage documents between ISO 26000 and other important standards/tools developed by organizations such as the OECD. So far linkage documents have been published in relation to UN Global Compact, GRI G4, IIRC and the UN SGDs.

Today ISO 26000 PPO published a new linkage document between ISO 26000 and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Hopefully those using one of these two documents will be inspired to use also the other document. The linkage document is available here.

ISO 26000 and UN SDGs in detail

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A detailed analysis of how ISO 26000 recommendations relate to the UN Sustainable development goals and targets has been developed and is available here.

State-of-the-art from Italy

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UNI in Italy has published an interesting document after extensive stakeholder consultation.

This is how it has been described:

” “UNI Prassi di Riferimento” (best reference practice) UNI/PdR 18:2016 “Social responsibility in organizations – Guidance to the application of UNI ISO 26000”.

This document provides a number of elements that support the application of UNI ISO 26000, with focus on the aspects of materiality, accountability, and stakeholder engagement. It outlines operational solutions applicable to different types of organizations and provides with some practical examples concerning the stages of implementation for the organizational governance of social responsibility.

Therefore it is a document which outlines a set of operational guidelines for those organizations wishing to address the issue of social responsibility by applying the principles and addressing the core subjects described in UNI ISO 26000. It has been designed with the idea of tracing a sort of path, an ideal roadmap that leads, in a modular and progressive, way to a mature and conscious approach to social responsibility.”

More information can be found at the UNI-website.


ISO 26000 highlights January 2017

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From email sent to ISO 26000 Post Publication Organization advisory groups SAG and NIN

ISO 26000 related highlights

  • As agreed in the PPO work plan, a Spanish translation of the basic training material has been developed. Thank you Karla Guerrero and Adriana Rosenfeld. Draft attached and if you have (SAG and NIN) have any final comments please let us know before end of next week.
  • The OECD/26000 Linkage document is with ISO for final editing and then to be published as a PPO document. Again, thank you Hans Kröder for hard work on this. Next step is to level up this document to a ISO/OECD joint publication.
  • The document presenting detailed linkages between ISO 26000 and the SDG goals and targets have been finalized and is currently with ISO for final editing, then to be published as a PPO document. Thank you Adriana R and Cristina Lopez (and me, for the introduction text…)
  • Next document we have discussed is a linkage document between ISO 26000 and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Dante Pesce will support us but PPO needs a volunteer to coordinate the technical work.
  • The systematic review of ISO 26000 was launched by ISO January 15 and will close June 5th. We hope you /your national mirror committee have seen it. Jorge Cajazeira is managing systematic review issues in the PPO.
  • The ISO 26000 PPO survey 2016 closed and Eduardo Sao Thiago is compiling the results. Preliminary indications: Angola, Iceland, Canada, Montenegro, Russia, Rwanda, India (tbc), have now adopted ISO 26000, i.e. more than 80+ countries. I try to keep track of these at http://iso26000.info/countries . BTW: so far 30 copies of ISO 26000 for free have been requested and delivered to individuals in companies/organizations with lack of funds through this website.
  • IWA 26 on how to use ISO 26000 in the ISO high level structure for management systems is moving along. Sweden and Tanzania are twinning and approximately 50 expertts have signed up. First draft to be sent out early next week and then the first workshop will be in Stockholm 9-10 March. Join us! More info: http://www.sis.se/IWA-on-ISO-26000
  • Global Child Forum recently found that ISO 26000 was the second most known CSR/SR tool among the companies in Asia.
  • ISO (DIS2) 20400 Sustainable Procurement – Guidance: likely there will no FDIS and the final editorial comments can be treated soon. France/Brazil has done a great job finalizing this complex standard and I am looking forward to the launch within a few months.
  • ISO 37001 Anti-bribery management systems has been published and is now managed as part of TC309 Governance of Organizations which has the scope “Standardization in the field of governance relating to aspects of direction, control and accountability of organizations”
  • ISO (DIS) 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System is to be published in December this year.
  • Guide 82 Addressing sustainability in standards is based on ISO 26000 and from what I hear more and more stakeholders/standardizers are using it with ISO, which is great news.
  • Almost 15,000 members in the ISO 26000 LinkedIn group now.
  • Tina Bohlin (tina.bohlin@sis.se) has taken over after Ludvig Hubendick as Secretary of ISO 26000 PPO. I have had meetings with her and I am convinced she will be a great PPO catalyzer. Ludvig will leave SIS and start working for the Green Part in Sweden by the end of this month. Perhaps you can drop him an email (ludvig.hubendick@sis.se) before he leaves ? Personally I have emailed him a BIG thank you for all of his hard work and initiatives. He was key for the initiation of IWA 26 and the Stockholm conference. All throughout a great project leader with a personal passion for sustainability.

Best regards

Staffan Söderberg
AMAP Sustainability
+46 (0)706912269
Skype: staler12