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ISO International Standards offer benefits for a world of seven billion people (November 2011)

As the world population achieves a new landmark of seven billion people, ISO standards offer practical tools for sustainability and a better, safer world.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the population of our planet has now reached seven billion people (1). It said “This unique moment in human history represents both an achievement and a challenge, and will have an impact on every single person on the planet. A world of seven billion has implications for sustainability, urbanization, access to health services and youth empowerment – however, it also offers a rare call-to-action opportunity to renew global commitment for a healthy and sustainable world.”

ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele comments: "Standards play a pivotal role in facilitating the interaction of so many people. Every day, thousands of ISO standards help people at work, in the home and at play, by promoting quality and efficiency, making lives safer and more comfortable, fostering economic prosperity and looking after our planet. And that is because ISO standards are made by people to help solve problems for people."

Examples include standards for food safety, medical devices, social responsibility, building and construction, transportation and fighting climate change. Whether we are pressing on the brake of a car, playing ice hockey protected by a helmet, or using a computer, ISO standards make an important contribution to our safety and efficiency.

As the world population reaches seven billion, International Standards can help address the ever growing challenge of sustainability. For example, standards for food and water quality and for energy management can contribute to an effective use of resources. And standards for new technologies help promote and deploy innovations crucial to facilitating the lives of a rising population. In fact, most ISO standards contribute in one way or another to addressing the economic, societal and environmental aspects of sustainability.

What makes ISO so effective is that it provides a non-political, non-partisan platform where standards are developed through open, transparent processes by representatives of the people that need them, implement them, are affected by them – and who can review and continually improve the results of their implementation.

This is why ISO standards help translate agreements reached at events like the Earth Summit and the forthcoming Rio+20, into practical actions that can be implemented worldwide.

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