ISO TMB decision on TC SR

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The ISO Technical Management Board decided, in its June 2021 meeting, that the proposal from the member in France (Afnor) to start a new Technical Committee on Social Responsbility (TC SR) was to be rejected. The main reason was the recent ballot among ISO-members that concluded that ISO 26000 was to remain unchanged.

Reflections:

  • ISO standards are developed through balloting the 160+ members (one per country). One recent vote was in favor of establishing a new Technical Committee on Social Responsbility. Another recent vote was in favor of keeping the one standard ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsbility as it ia worded and published since 2010. Combined, and of course taking many other factors into account, TMB decided not to approve a new TC SR.
  • It is the second time since 2010 a TC SR is proposed and rejected. The member bodies, i.e. those that define what is relevant to their markets and societies, vote in favor of establishing a technical committe on social responsbility and ISO TMB rejects.
  • ISO and TMB, or preferrably a member, will hopefully suggest another solution soon, to clarify how contributing to sustainable development, i.e. behaving in a socially responsible way, is done through ISO-standrards. Part of the answer has already been given through the publically available Guide 82 (right hand side of page linked to) and the clarity on connections to the UN SDGs. However, until and unless ISO and its membership develops more clarity, the questions will continue to be asked:
    • ISO membership has through three ballot over 10 years confirmed both relevance and correctness of ISO 26000 and its definition stands: social responsbility (with or without C as in Corporate) is about maximizing the contribution to sustainable development through at least 7 principles and 7 core subjects. ISO needs to clarify: is this core definition valid or not also for other ISO-deliverables supported by ISO TMB? Some examples:
      • Existing TCs: Governance, Sustainable Finance, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Environment, Quality
      • Existing standards and terms: ISO ISO 37000 Governance of Organizations, ISO/TR 30406 Sustainable employability, ISO 9004 Guidance on sustainable success, and terms sustainable agriculture, sustainability in building construction, sustainable tourism, sustainable communities,
    • Will the standards/deliverables currently managed directly under TMB as “technical owners”, finally find a proper home in a TC? Examples:
      • ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsbility
      • ISO 20121 Event sustainability management systems
      • ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement Guidande from 2017
      • IWA 26 Using ISO 26000 in management systems
      • IWA 27 Sharing Economy
      • Guide 82 Addressing Sustainability in Standards (as Guide 64 Environment/products is in a TC)
      • ISO 13065 Sustainability Criteria for Bioenergy

Many of these questions could have and been answered through a new ISO Technical Committee on Social Responsbility but ISO TMB may surprise us and present an even better way forward.

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