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World Standards Day: a unifying call for global partnership

October 11, 2021

On 14 October, we celebrate World Standards Day.

As the Australian member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), together with other national standards bodies, we recognise the individuals and members who contribute their expertise to help develop standards. We also take time to reflect on how standards play a role in the many facets of daily life.

This year, the theme for World Standards Day is a ‘shared vision for a better world’. This theme provides us an opportunity to look at standards and how they can contribute toward achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)[1]

These ambitious goals focus on addressing social imbalance and encouraging economic growth, while combating climate change and preserving our natural resources by 2030.

All UN member states, including Australia, adopted these goals in 2015.  

How standards can help achieve the SDGs

Standards are developed through collaboration and consensus; they can provide guidance and promote innovation. Standards can play a vital role in supporting our shared vision for a better world through guidance to government, industry and consumers on a national and international level.

From a global perspective, ISO has published more than 22,000 international standards and associated documents, which, along with their own identified areas of standards development, can contribute significantly to all SDGs[2].

On a national level, Standards Australia focuses on the development of internationally aligned standards that guide products, services and systems for the benefit of the Australian community.

In celebration of World Standards Day, we reference some of the ways Australia is contributing to the SDGs through global engagement and local standard development and initiatives.

Smarter Cities, happier People

According to the United Nations, almost 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050[3]. In line with this, community expectations have changed from managing ‘roads, rates, and rubbish’, to tackling more significant issues such as sustainability, climate change, and resilience.

Recognising the changing expectations, SDG 11 seeks to create cities which are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

In August 2020, Standards Australia released the Smart Cities Standards Roadmap. This Roadmap aims to give a set of clear, actionable recommendations that develop safe, sustainable and resilient cities and communities.

There are many Smart Cities projects already underway in Australia. Switching on Darwin[4] is a current initiative which includes 24 environmental sensors in Darwin’s CBD measuring humidity, rainfall and CO2 levels. In addition, the Sunshine Coast has harnessed technologies to create a more liveable city, including smart bins and water meters, parking and sensors to monitor wildlife and waterways[5].

Smart projects and smart cities require improved data accessibility and interoperability, which can be guided by standards ISO/IEC JTC 1/SE 32 (Data management and interchange).

Development of Smart Cities strategies and initiatives can be navigated by adopting the Smart Cities governance standards (ISO 37100 series).

Standards Australia unmuddies the waters

SDG 6 relates to clean water and sanitation. This goal is essential to support communities without adequate access to safe water.

Last year, according to research from the United Nations, billions of people did not have access to safe drinking water (2 billion), sanitation (3.6 billion) and hygiene (2.3 billion)[6].

Locally, the Western Australian government has reported that drinking water in some remote communities is contaminated with uranium, faecal bacteria and nitrates above the recommended levels.

National and international standards relating to clean water and sanitation can help governments improve drinking water quality and management systems which are critical for the health, hygiene and sustainability in remote communities.

In addition, standards act as guiding documents to promote better water quality. For example, AS/NZS 4020:2018, Testing of products for use in contact with drinking water, specifies the requirements for the suitability of products for use in contact with drinking water, with guidance on testing characteristics such as metals.

Standards can also support water efficiency and reduce the number of people suffering from water shortages. Following the guidance set out in AS/NZS 6400, Water Efficient Products – Rating and Labelling (WELS), Australia could save 8,542,606,415 kilolitres (KL) of water in ten years based on a moderate assumption analysis.

For a visual representation, the total water saving on a household basis, nationwide amounts to more than 17 times the total water in Sydney Harbour. Annually, the total water saving is more than 370,000 Olympic size pools[7].

Putting Australia front and centre on the world stage

It’s believed that global demand for hydrogen exported from Australia could be almost a million tonnes by 2030, adding up to $11billion in GDP growth each year by 2050 [8].

SDG goals 7 and 9 relate to affordable and clean energy, and industry, innovation and infrastructure. They connect to Australia’s growing hydrogen industry, and national and international resilience in infrastructure design and building.

There are more than 200 International Standards related to energy efficiency and renewables, with many more in development, that can help Australia achieve its energy industry goals[9].

In light of this, Standards Australia adopted eight international standards to assist in the successful implementation of hydrogen across Australia.

In addition, in February 2021, Standards Australia entered an agreement with Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to expedite the development of hydrogen standards.

A moment to reflect

While we have only referenced four of the 17 SDGs, Standards Australia is striving to meet all goals for a globally sustainable future through international and national standards development.

On World Standards Day, we recognise the important work that standards support and guide. And we appreciate how standards underpin every aspect of life. We celebrate and thank those who contribute their time and expertise in creating standards, for the benefit of all.

All Standards and other documents developed by Standards Australia are currently available for purchase from Standards Australia Store. Click here to view all available standards for purchase.

[1] ISO, THE 17 GOALS | Accessed: 1 October 2021

[2] ISO, Sustainable Development Goals | Accessed: 1 October 2021

[3] UN, News |Accessed: 8 October 2021

[4] Computerworld, Meet the top nine Australian smart city projects | Accessed: 1 October 2021

[5] CIO, 5 Australian cities battle for ‘smart city’ glory | Accessed: 1 October 2021

[6] UN, SDG 6| Accessed: 1 October 2021

[7] New South Wales Irrigators’ Council, Useful Water Comparisons | Accessed: 1 October 2021

[8]Energy Ministers, Reports to support the National Hydrogen Strategy | Accessed: 8 October 2021

[9] ISO, SDG 7 | Accessed: 1 October 2021

Jess Dunne
Communications Manager

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Jess Dunne
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