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ISO Annual Meeting 2023

Standards Australia and the ISO Annual Meeting 2023

Standards Australia hosted the ISO Annual Meeting 2023 in Brisbane from September 18 to 22 - the first time the event was hosted in Australia for 20 years.

The week-long conference was presented in virtual, hybrid and in-person formats under the theme “Meeting Global Needs”.

Highlights from Monday 18th September

Day 1: Global collaboration & trust

This week we'll be bringing insights from the ISO Annual Meeting 2023 - hearing from the leaders and experts who've gathered to address the world's most challenging issues.

“Change is the only constant. We must continue to adapt to challenging needs and expectations. We can’t be comfortable or complacent, nor operate as we did in the past.”
—Adrian O'Connell, Standards Australia CEO.

Opening ceremony
The opening ceremony set the tone for the week, with speakers underlining the event’s mission – to address the world’s most challenging issues ISO President Ulrika Francke stressed that, while the world was enduring uncertain times, the international standards community was committed to protecting the planet and making lives easier, better and more sustainable.

Standards Australia CEO Adrian O’Connell outlined some of the pressures the world is facing – cities impacted by climate change, rapid technological change, and communities without access to adequate levels of energy.

“Change is the only constant. We must continue to adapt to challenging needs and expectations,” he said.

“If we fail to deliver the right solutions, when needed, then others will do it.”

“I hope we can use the week to listen, learn, question and challenge with a common purpose to meet global needs.”

Keynote speaker, futurist Chris Riddell, outlined the megatrends that have emerged in recent years, such as the blurring of lines between physical and virtual worlds, and the way data management has created new geopolitical boundaries - important context for this year's meeting.

Closing the ceremony, ISO Secretary-General Sergio Mujica reminded delegates their participation should enable ‘serious conversations about the future of our organisation’.

Strategy Café
ISO members met to discuss the ISO Strategy for 2030. In this session, members broke out into groups from across the globe collaborating and discussing the successes and challenges the world is facing. These conversations will directly shape the future of the standards setting system as it strives to meet global needs.

Developing Country Matters (DEVCO)
The 57th meeting of the ISO committee on 'Developing Country Matters' addressed some of the unprecedented challenges that countries must respond to, especially in relation to climate change and how standards play a critical role in paving the way for a brighter and greener future.

As Ulrika Francke, ISO President pointed out, despite the difficult and unsettling reality of current times, we’re also living in a moment of great opportunity.

“It is an unfortunate truth that developing countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change," she said. "However, though not often discussed, developing countries have the most to gain from innovation in this field.”

Watch the recap video on ISO website.

Highlights from Tuesday 19th September

Day 2: Tech & Innovation

This week we bring you insights from the ISO Annual Meeting 2023 - hearing from the leaders and experts who've gathered to address the world's most challenging issues.

“If we don't innovate, we evaporate”
—Shannen Brown: Business Analyst, Standards Australia

Cybersecurity: Taking a Proactive Approach
Cybercrime is soaring, with ransomware, malware, crypto-jacking, and data theft attacks happening every three seconds. The global cost of these cyberattacks is expected to reach trillions of dollars annually by 2025.

Focusing on the importance of adopting a well-rounded approach to cybersecurity which includes both strategic thinking and tactical implementation, Lyria Bennett-Moses (Professor and Director of Alan's Computer Technology at UNSW Sydney) highlighted the necessity of a robust mitigation plan.

“Part of that plan is to resist the attacks in the first place, but it's also about recovery - what to do in the meantime. That's not just systems, that's also communications”.Alastair MacGibbon, Chief Strategy Officer at CyberCX said “there is a massive difference between those of us who exercise every day on cyber response versus those that are the victim organisations”, highlighting that cybersecurity is not a one-time task, but an ongoing effort to adapt to evolving threats.

Juan Pablo Castro - Director of Technology and Cybersecurity Strategist at Trend Micro - emphasised the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors to address the ongoing national security concerns.

Clash of the generations: A dialogue for innovation and change
The stakes felt high going into the Clash Of Generations session, but participants walked away with purpose and direction rather than disagreement and opposition.

Facilitated by Standards Australia Business Analyst Shannen Brown, young standards professionals faced their more experienced counterparts for an inter-generational dialogue on the former’s desire to help shape our present and future.

Both sides acknowledged the unique youth outlook – an in-room poll of all participants found balancing work and home life, and positive societal balance, were key motivators.

“The younger generation is looking for more than a job. We’re looking for work:life balance,” said Matthew Ong - Senior Development Partner for the standards division of Enterprise Singapore.

Nelson Al Assal Filho – ABNT Director of Standardization – echoed the sentiment: “This (younger) generation is really purpose-driven. We need to be sincere and authentic to resonate.”

This view was reiterated by Sergio Mujica, Secretary General of ISO: “We need young people to bridge the future,” he said. “Diversity is key to innovation and adaptation. We need the new generation to come in to change ourselves … to become different, to influence our decisions and business model.”
“It’s about staying relevant. We believe there will be better quality if we give the young generations a voice.”

In closing, Metzger had a message for both sides: “Older generations: create opportunities. Young generations: be bold. Always try to push forward.”

The Clash Of The Generations session will be released as an episode in Standards Australia's 'Set The Standard' podcast series.

Ready or not, here comes AI
AI is everywhere. Every organisation is a tech company, but it is important to identify both the benefits and risks associated with it. As a global standards community, we will be responsible for the rules
DSC07695 and legal infrastructure that will ultimately impact the way the world works for the next 10 – 20 years.

Panellists highlighted the need to bring human beings to the centre of decisions to ensure sustainable, ethical and trustworthy use of AI. A key message was that technology, and AI specifically, is not deterministic -  collectively, we can all influence what we get out of it.

Nicholas Davis Co-Director of the Human Technology Institute at the University of Technology Sydney said: “Technologies like AI are not a simple tool, they shape us like we shape them.”

Overcoming barriers to reducing food loss and waste
Tackling food loss and waste is imperative for sustainability and food security. "Forty percent of food is lost from farm to fork globally,"  warns Professor Miranda Mirosa, Head of the Department of Food Science at the University of Otago. She underscored the critical need to address food waste due to its severe social, economic and environmental consequences. "Ten per cent of human-generated greenhouse gases come from food loss and waste, which is why reducing it is a fundamental aspect of tackling climate change," she said, adding: "A three-pronged strategy offers hope: to target, measure, and act to reduce."

International targets aligned with sustainable development aim to halve food loss and waste by 2030. This involves understanding where waste occurs, its drivers, and collaborative efforts to reduce it. Loss and waste persist across the supply chain, implicating consumers as part of the problem.

France leads by example, enacting legislation to prevent retailers from destroying edible food. Vincent Hebrail - Counsellor for agricultural affairs, Australia and New Zealand at the The Embassy of France to Australia -  highlighted how this led to agreements between retailers and organisations to donate excess food.

Watch the recap video on ISO website.

Highlights from Wednesday 20th September

Day 3: Sustainability & Trade

This week we bring you insights from the ISO Annual Meeting 2023 - hearing from the leaders and experts who've gathered to address the world's most challenging issues.

“If it was easy, we would have done it already”
—Fabienne Michaux : Director of SDG Impact, UNDP

Building Resilience in an Uncertain World
Where more people reside in cities than ever before, their vulnerability to climate-related disasters presents a significant challenge.

Alison Drury - General Manager, Trade and International Branch, Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources (DISR) - underscored the urgent need for resilient buildings and infrastructure. Climate change is intensifying with extreme weather events like bushfires, cyclones, floods, and heatwaves.

Collin Sivalingum - State Emergency Services Manager for the Australian Red Cross - highlighted that "What we see is more people moving to urban city areas. We live in close proximity, but we are socially more distant. In suburban areas, you know the neighbours and you know that somebody's vulnerable in the community. You know how to prepare for disaster."

“If we want to be successful at becoming more resilient and tackling climate change, collaboration is key. We don’t have the luxury of time anymore,” said
Chantal Guay, CEO of the Standards Council of Canada, emphasising collaboration as a vital component of resilience.

“We need to ensure the most vulnerable communities affected by climate change are heard”.

While it is impossible to plan for every contingency, collaboration and adherence to standards play a vital role in mitigating risks and strengthening urban resilience. The primary focus should be on making informed decisions to prepare for the challenges of an uncertain climate future.

Global Trade: The Importance of Accountability in Sustainability Claims
Climate friendly. Green. Carbon neutral. Net zero. Buzzwords when we talk about reducing the impact on the environment.
This surge in demand for sustainable products and services impacts businesses across the value chain. Regulators, supply chain actors, investors, and consumers are all calling for an increased focus on sustainability.  

However, this surge and subsequent proliferation of sustainability claims - some substantiated and others not - has caused market confusion and consumer scepticism. For global trade, this poses a significant challenge.

Companies failing to meet the necessary sustainability criteria face severe reputational and economic consequences.

Trust in exporters' sustainability claims is essential. Trade policies, including the integration of sustainability chapters and enforceability measures, are vital to mitigate risks associated with such claims.

Addressing issues like greenwashing requires legal and regulatory frameworks and conformity assessments.

Peter Draper, Professor and Executive Director, Institute for International Trade, University of Adelaide notes, “The European Union's approach, featuring enforceable directives, sets global standards through its substantial market influence."  

However, Eric Wijkström - Head, Technical Barriers to Trade Section, Trade and Environment Division at the WTO - said: “While governments have the right to regulate to ensure product safety and quality, they must strike a balance to avoid creating unnecessary trade barriers.”

From Commitment to Action: Building Partnerships for Sustainability
Members discussed the main purpose of ISO strategic partnerships for sustainability. During this session the objectives were to:

• Define how ISO best conveys its value proposition to potential partner organisations
• Identify organisations ISO should partner with outside the standards sector
• Consider how ISO can adapt and evolve its business model to be the best partner possible
• Reflect on the key factors to ensure the success of a strategic partnership
• Identify and evaluate potential partners based on complementary strengths and resources, and the rationale behind the partnership.

(Tuesday session)
Hydrogen: Fuel of the Future?
Hydrogen is the lightest chemical element, burdened with the heaviest expectations for environmental performance. Even worse, many want it, but it is hard to work with. And expensive.

The headwinds confronting the uptake of Hydrogen as a clean energy source were addressed in the ‘Hydrogen: Fuel of the Future?’ session.

The challenges are significant – lack of regulatory frameworks make Hydrogen an unattractive investment. Lack of a clear industry roadmap, and skills in that industry, means it is hard to scale up. Policy support is required at each point of the value chain.  

However, global standards may provide a path forward.

“Standardisation is one of five shifts required … to get to scale,” says Phil O'Neil, Energy Transition Partner at Advisian. “Being able to standardise designs and equipment will facilitate the roll-out (of Hydrogen) across the globe.”

New technologies will help us achieve our ambitions, although standards will need to allow for them, O’Neil adds.
But the outlook is not completely bleak. As stated by Daria Nochevnik - Director for Policy and Partnerships at the Hydrogen Council – we’re not starting at zero.

While public interest in Hydrogen is reasonably fresh, industry has been building a robust body of safety standards in the space for some time. “More work is underway, and we’re confident (safety standards) will be fit for purpose,” she said.

Watch the recap video on ISO website.

Highlights from Thursday 21st September

Day 4: Cooperation, climate, & connections

This week we bring you insights from the ISO Annual Meeting 2023 - hearing from the leaders and experts who've gathered to address the world's most challenging issues.

“The future is about a balance between tradition and technology”
—Vaimu'a Muliava, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Digital Transformation, Technological innovation, Construction, and the Public Service, New Caledonia

Preserving Paradise: Climate adaptation for vulnerable islands

Tradition and technology. Mother nature and modernisation. Climate change and staying connected to the community.  

These were the messages that stood out in the interest of preserving paradise and some of the challenges facing the Pacific Island nations.

Communities across the region have faced the devastation and catastrophic effects of climate change.

The imperative lies in building resilience as a shield against these ever-increasing challenges.

Crossley Tatui - Honourable Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Finance, Niue - said: “With climate change, we have seen cyclones occur at increasing frequency and intensity. Government departments need to review and adjust budgets to meet circumstances.”

Mr Tatui highlights the importance of adapting governmental strategies to ensure the safety and security of communities. He underscored the pivotal role that communication between government entities, civil society and individual families play to achieve positive outcomes.

Vaimu'a Muliava - the Honourable Minister for Digital Transformation, Technological Innovation, Construction, and the Public Service in New Caledonia - brought a crucial perspective to the conversation. He emphasised the need to tailor disaster response and resilience-building efforts to the unique local environment of the Pacific Islands, instead of adopting solutions from European models.

Mr Muliava said, “The future is about a balance between tradition and technology. We must acknowledge and respect our environment as our forefathers did and integrate technicity into our economic model to exist harmoniously with the environment.”

From Pollution to Solution: Tackling the Plastic Crisis
12,000 kilograms of plastic waste is produced every second, but only nine percent of plastic waste is recycled globally.

A large proportion is mismanaged, polluting the environment.  
The discussion on tackling the plastics crisis has highlighted two critical elements: microplastics and the role of chemicals in plastics.  

Stephanie Laruelle - Programme Management Officer for UNEP - said: "There are over 13,000 associated (plastic) compounds, with over 7,000 considered to be hazardous, and 3,200 of these raise concerns due to potential harm, interfering with our hormones, posing a cancer risk and reducing fertility.”  

These chemicals are pervasive in various plastic products and these harmful substances can persist throughout the entire plastic lifecycle, from production to disposal. A comprehensive approach to regulation is vital to managing this issue.  

It is not only about controlling chemical use in production but also addressing manufacturing, product usage, and waste management.

(Wednesday session)
Stop and Listen: What Customers Need

People are at the heart of any good organisation. In this insightful session, our panellists leant into the importance of a customer-centric approach and how this could align to the world of standards.

Panellists touched on the evolving needs of standards users and how standards organisations can adapt to this change.  

This enlightening discussion underlined the enduring relevance of Steve Jobs’ wisdom and the need to think outside of the box. “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards”.

The panel called on our standards organisations to try out fresh approaches and innovate to provide the customer with an enhanced experience.

Watch the recap video on ISO website.

Showcase initiatives

Critical & emerging technologies

We are at the forefront of thinking and development of standards in critical & emerging technologies:

New standards development path

The world is evolving – fast. And so are we. Standards Australia is committed to implementing new ways to develop standards – to stay ahead of the game and keep standards relevant.
More info: Richard Lambert

Improved access to standards

Standards Australia’s new initiatives deliver better access to standards for anyone who needs them:
Coming soon – Mobile standards app

Environmental leadership

Standards Australia plays a crucial role in environmental improvement through several key initiatives:
Coming soon – HyStandards hydrogen tool.

Education & training

Through many programs, Standards Australia is upskilling its valued contributors and users and preparing the next generation of standards development leaders and users:
  • Dedicated internal Standards Academy keeps existing contributors current, and onboards & upskills newcomers
  • NEXTgen and Bootcamp programs activate up-and-coming standards development leaders
  • Fire safety course: partnership with NSWOBC
More info: Kim Suter

Local & global engagement

Standards Australia reaches across the world to engage and inform stakeholders, and advance the critical mission of standards development.
Learn more:

Our Centenary year

In 2022, Standards Australia celebrated 100 years of setting the standard for Australia. Learn more about our celebrations, and download our commemorative Centenary Book.

A pledge to diversity

In February 2023, Standards Australia signed the UNECE’s Declaration on Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development, setting the organisation on a path to make standards and the standards development process more gender-responsive. Learn more
More info: Lauren Russo

Enhanced customer experience

Our Voice of Customer research program collects feedback to enhance products, services and the customer experience, and drive improvements and innovation.

Better By Standards content tells the story of our standards – helping us better understand the what and why of standards while highlighting their benefits. 

Learn more
More info: Jamal Waqar

Search tool helping standards users

In partnership with Microsoft, our proof-of-concept Advance Search tool will help guide users to relevant sections and clauses within standards documents.