The ISO 26000 PPO is disbanded

The ISO 26000 PPO is disbanded

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  ISO 26000

After eight years of promoting ISO 26000 the two ISO member bodies Sweden (SIS) and Brazil (ABNT) disbanded the ISO 26000 PPO mid July 2018. The PPO SAG (stakeholder advisory group) and PPO NIN (NSB Information Network) will continue to promote ISO 26000 under a new name and organization.

IWA 26 communication plan

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  ISO 26000

IWA 26 is an ISO-deliverable that aims at helping users of ISO 26000 and users of ISO-management system standards understand each other a bit better. During the final plenary of the workshop a draft communication plan was initiated and it has now been finalized. It gives a good summary of the document and of why a management system approach to ISO 26000 can be beneficial. It is available here.

Let us know if you have examples of application of IWA 26 or management systems for social responsibility/sustainability.

Not using ISO 26000? It is OK!

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  ISO 26000

Some are not using ISO 26000 and that is OK

In a recent interview in a Swedish sustainability magazine a couple of companies (RagnSell and ClasOhlson) stated

‘We are not using ISO 26000 because taking societal responsibility and solving societal challenges in a way that benefits the company can not be standardized’

It made me think twice. Taking societal responsibility and solving societal challenges?

First of all, do they mean that ‘the business of business is business’ and can not be standardized? Sounds a bit like Milton Friedman and 1970ish. We have evolved since, and modern companies and organisations use standards to build level international playing fields around basics we should not need to re-define. All conpanies and organizations have a social responsibility to contribute when society defines and delivers both current sustainable development and a future global state of sustainability. Contribute to, not define societal challenges. It is a bit confusing when companies speak of “taking societal responsibility” and “solving societal challenges” as it confuses the responsibility of the state and the government. As far as I know there is not one single standard out there, ISO or not, that recommends companies to use the term “Corporate Societal Responsibility”. That is why we need standards, to avoid confusing stakeholders.

We can already see some governments out there not acting on Agenda 2030 but instead referring to ‘great voluntary initiatives by our companies’. It did not work for environmental management during the 80s and 90s and it will not for sustainability management. We need international standards to stop wasting time re-defining basic terms and definitions, structures, roles, and methods. Of course, design, price, innovation, many quality aspects and implementation methods – can/should not be standardized. Each organization and service is unique. But basic social responsibility management can be standardized, even internationally. Social responsibility, not societal responsibility.

Secondly, ISO 26000 did not present any additional requirements. The standard contains 450+ recommendations based on existing international norms from ILO, UN, etcetera, as interpreted and expressed by 450 experts from 100 countries and 40 international organizations. As such, ISO 26000 did not revolutionize the many fore-running companies in the developed economies. There are 15,000 companies using GRI and UN GC and that is great. But there are 2 million companies in the construction sector in Europe alone. We need to speed up and scale up, and for that we need broad standards such as ISO 26000. It has already touched the 1,5 million companies/organizations around the world that are using ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Many of which are in emerging economies.

Interestingly enough, the three companies that voiced against using ISO 26000 in the Swedish magazine use other standards such as ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 45001 and GRI. Some of them even even offers services related to ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. They all have huge international supply chains through countries with lack of laws and respect for the rule of law.

All companies need/have standards and after the past 15 years today most sustainability/social responsibility standards are more or less the same. It is OK if you are not using ISO 26000, but please use any of the other good standards out there, do not re-invent the wheel or introduce old terms such as ‘corporate societal responsibility’. And if you want to tell the market about your use of standards you can say

‘We are not using ISO 26000 but other standards because several fundamental parts of how to contribute to sustainable development and societal challenges have already been standardized and that benefits our company’

ISO TMB: ISO 26000 is confirmed

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  ISO 26000

December 2, 2017:
ISO TMB decided through internal TMB-ballot that the final result of their extended ballot to the NSBs was to be interpreted as a confirmation of ISO 26000:2010. The first NSB-vote was 48 % in favor and the second was 55 % in favor of confirming ISO 26000.  Some of the comments from the ISO TMB members are available under the systematic review page.

As a consequence, a revision of ISO 26000 will likely not be initiated until the year 2020 the earliest, and a new version therefore not be available until 2023.

ISO will decide Dec 2, 2017!

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  ISO 26000

Systematic review 2017 

First ballot results:
11 member countries voted Confirm (keep as it is)
12 member countries voted Revise (update/change)
7 countries Abstained.

Result: 52 % (12/23) in favor of REVISE. Single majority, but a weak indication.

As for previous systematic review, ISO 26000 PPO discussed the technical comments received with its stakeholder advisory group and sent its final recommendations to ISO TMB. In short: PPO recommended ISO TMB to initiate a revision of ISO 26000 based on key international documents such as UN Agenda 2030/SDGs, revised OECD Guidelines, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights but also, equally important, for better alignment with the ISO standards that have been developed since publication of ISO 26000. Examples being ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Guidance, ISO 37001 Anti-bribery management systems, ISO 20121 Sustainability in Event Management, ISO DIS 45001 OHS MS.

ISO TMB decided that the response rate, number of countries voting, was too low and extended the ballot with a month. During this month intense lobbying has taken place, and letters/phone calls from large international organizations that do not favor ISO 26000 or similar ISO-deliverables have affected many NSB officers/managers. Understandably difficult for an NSB-employee to respond to a call from an international OECD/IOE/ICC/ILO expert and defend the national stakeholders’ consensus views.

Second extended ballot results:
25 member countries voted Confirm
20 member countries voted Revise
9 member countries Abstained

Result: 56 % (25/45) in favor of CONFIRM. Single majority, but a weak indication.


Next steps

ISO 26000 PPO is not a formal body (TC) in ISO and ISO 26000 PPO has no formal mandate regarding revision of ISO 26000. ISO 26000 PPO has an advisory role towards ISO TMB and ISO TMB can be seen as the “Technical Committee” for those ISO deliverables that are not technically managed in a TC, e.g. ISO 26000 and ISO 20400. ISO TMB decides on the future of ISO 26000. In order to decide, ISO TMB has sent a ballot to its TMB members country representatives for an internal vote which closes December 2. If you want to know more about this internal ISO TMB analysis and decision process you have to contact them, preferably via your NSB or through our assigned Technical Program manager Mr. Jose Alcorta.

“Who is TMB?”. TMB is responsible for overall technical coordination in ISO. Here is information from ISO website:  For those of you with access to ISO LiveLink:

Handling the additional comments:
No, PPO is not analyzing the additional technical comments: ISO TMB members will do the analysis of all technical social responsibility comments and decide if ISO 26000 should be technically revised or not. ISO 26000 PPO is not a TC and there is no formal requirement that 26000 PPO must be involved in analyzing any additional technical comments or results received from TMB-extended ballot. The PPO Secretariate has received the votes/comments but unfortunately we are not allowed to send you the technical comments or results showing which countries changed their vote or added their vote. If you want the results perhaps your NSB can assist you.

The ISO 26000 PPO recommendations:
Yes, as far I know the ISO 26000 PPO / SAG technical analysis and recommendation (attached) still stands. Our recommendation was based on the technical SR-content of the comments received from the member bodies that replied.

My personal conclusion of the systematic review 2017:

  • Weak indications from two votes (first 52 % revise and then 55 % confirm)
  • Strong technical comments for revision based on new international norms

If ISO TMB members decides to confirm ISO 26000:2010 the next systematic review will be in the year 2020 the earliest and, thus, the earliest time when ISO 26000 will address the extremely important UN Agenda 2030/SDGs will be in 2023: 8 years after the UN SGDs were published and 7 years ahead of 2030. In addition, ISO 26000 needs to be updated with the many SR-relevant deliverables that ISO members have developed since 2010. Based on the input of the ISO 26000 practitioners I have spoken to the global relevance of ISO 26000 may decrease due to this lack of update and coherence.

Of course CSR/SR/sustainability practitioners are using other equally excellent tools to structure and maximize their contribution to sustainable development, such as UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, OECD Guidelines, ILO-deliverables. However, the reason why many of us engaged in the ISO 26000-process was that ISO standards have a unique outreach to millions of individual companies and organizations that are already using ISO standards (e.g. 1 million companies for ISO 9001 alone….) in both developed and developing countries. And that is what is desperately needed for sustainable development. Speed up and scale up.

Let us hope ISO TMB in their final SR-technical analysis of the input received from the ISO member countries will conclude that ISO 26000 needs to be updated with at least the UN Agenda 2030 and references to the latest SR-related ISO-deliverables. That would greatly help practitioners use ISO 26000:2010 in speeding up and scaling up.

Kind regards,
Staffan, Vice Chair ISO 26000 PPO

Will ISO 26000 be revised or not?

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  ISO 26000

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 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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  ISO 26000

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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  ISO 26000

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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  ISO 26000

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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  ISO 26000

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.