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SDGs: how conformity assessment could prevent greenwashing
Date: 2022-11-15    Source:IEC   

IEC conformity assessment could play an important role in helping organizations to avoid inadvertent greenwashing when communicating their support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That was one of the chief takeaways from an international roundtable on the SDGs that took place during the IEC General Meeting in San Francisco.

The SDGs are a set of 17 ambitious goals aimed at tackling climate change, poverty and other global challenges. The IEC believes that international standards and conformity assessment can help the world to achieve those goals.

The first part of the IEC roundtable explored the role and responsibility of corporations in addressing the UN SDGs. Distinguished speakers included: Jim Matthews, the Director of Technical Standards and Standards Policy for Corning, the US multinational technology company; Jonathan Colby, the US-based President of Streamwise Development, a consultancy company for the renewable energy sector; Ajay Garg, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of SMC Global Securities, based in India; Phil Piqueira, Vice President of Global Standards for Underwriters Laboratories (UL); and Vimal Mahendru, the IEC Special Envoy for SDGs and a co-organizer of the roundtable discussion.

The panellists agreed that organizations that made misleading claims about the impact of products or services on the environment and society would pay the price in the marketplace. "It's difficult to say but I think that  the profit motive is a big factor," said Mr. Piqueira.

"I think it's in the corporation's best interest, in the shareholders' best interest and in the consumers' best interest for the corporation to pay attention to the goals of the SDGs," he continued.

Mr. Matthews concurred. "Why do we care? It's because our shareholders want us to do the right thing, as do our customers."

Mr. Garg said the important thing for organizations was to incorporate the SDGs into their decision-making, "Because you don't want to just pay lip service."

"I think one of the best ways to avoid greenwashing is to start and encourage the development of a stamp or some kind of third-party verification of these claims that companies are making," said Mr. Colby.

"IEC conformity assessment could enable entities and corporations to look at their own work and ask if they conform to what is required by the UN SDGs," agreed Mr. Mahendru.

IEC International Standards and IEC Conformity Assessment (CA) Systems directly or indirectly contribute to all of the 17 SDGs. They provide the foundation that allows all countries to put in place sustainable, resilient infrastructure to stimulate economic development and innovation and apply global best-practice to manage quality and risk.

IEC International Standards embody global consensus on methodologies, processes, and specifications and are often used in regulations. They enhance access to technology and innovation, promote the development, transfer, and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies, and facilitate participation in global trade.

Third-party conformity assessment refers to a type of certification performed by a person or organization that is independent of the seller or the buyer. It provides the highest level of assurance.

The IEC Conformity Assessment Systems are a framework of common rules and methodologies, into which professional conformity assessment bodies (CABs), from all over the world work together through peer assessment to ensure consistent and comparable results.

A second roundtable panel focused on the importance of standards and conformity assessment in addressing SDGs for everyone. Roundtable co-organizer Sonya Bird, a member of the IEC National Committee in the US and of the IEC Standardization Management Board (SMB) provided an overview of the IEC commitment to the SDGs and work to date.

(Source: IEC)



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