(New York, 20 September 2007) – International sustainable development standards were a featured topic at the Open Session of the 30th General Assembly of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) held today in Geneva.
Providing support for the development of social responsibility guidance by ISO, Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated in the session’s opening address, “ISO makes a considerable contribution to the societal dimension of our sustainable development task. The ongoing work to craft an international standard for social responsibility is especially noteworthy in this respect. The United Nations appreciates the effort to involve the Global Compact closely in this process. The recently concluded Global Compact Leaders Summit, which took place here in Geneva in July, highlighted the merit of corporate social responsibility not only as an aim in itself, but as a business enabler.”
The Global Compact has been involved in the development of an ISO social responsibility standard (ISO 26000) since 2003. According to Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact, “an ISO 26000 standard that is built on existing expertise and consensus, and which encourages voluntary commitment to social responsibility, could help provide widespread common understanding and guidance on social responsibility concepts, definitions and methods of evaluation”.
It is also the position of the Global Compact that ISO 26000 has the potential to build local capacity and foster local ownership of the corporate citizenship movement – particularly in developing countries – which is a critical step in better establishing the business-society agenda worldwide and achieving a level global playing field for all businesses.
Through a Memorandum of Understanding between ISO and the Global Compact signed in November of 2006, it has been agreed that the social responsibility guidance will be based on existing frameworks, such as the Global Compact, and that, in fact, ISO 26000 will be consistent with the Global Compact’s principles.