Engaging consumers in our global village

Connecting consumers with standards.

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Por Clare Naden
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Advertising to children and the fine print found in terms and conditions are issues that have an impact on all of us, and not always in a positive way. Yet, what many people are unaware of is how standards can help address these and many other consumer issues, making sure we are all informed and protected. The best standards, therefore, are those which have been developed with consumer input.

Recognizing this, ISO is hosting an online international meeting this week to look at how ISO members and their national consumer groups can further involve consumers in relevant standards work and identify new areas in which standards can best protect their interests. It also considers how ISO members and consumer bodies can strengthen ties and ensure their activities constantly adapt to rapidly changing market conditions.

The three-day event held by COPOLCO, ISO’s committee for consumer issues, brings together representatives from national standards bodies (NSBs), national and international consumer associations, policy makers and standardization bodies from over 40 countries. It opened with an online interactive forum aimed at helping ISO members and their stakeholders connect with consumer interests in their country, share good practices and ideas, capture market trends and propose concrete actions that will make a difference.

COPOLCO Chair Guillermo Zucal noted that the ISO committee is often the starting point for some highly impactful standards.

“Social responsibility, complaints handling, second-hand goods, consumer vulnerability, product recall… all these ISO standards have the same birthplace – us,” he said.

“Just one of COPOLCO’s roles is to identify consumer needs and propose standards for responsible organizations to use. I am looking forward to working together with all our stakeholders in this 42nd meeting of ISO/COPOLCO, to raise awareness of the importance of standards to consumers – and of consumers to standards.”

Sadie Dainton, Vice-Chair of COPOLCO, said one of the committee’s key goals is to build awareness of the vital role standards play in delivering consumer protection.

“Its ongoing programme of capacity building, training, outreach and communications has successfully brought together NSBs, consumers and government to fulfil these aims,” she explained.

“This year’s forum is just one example of NSBs and consumer stakeholders working together to help standards make the world safer, fairer and easier for its citizens.”

ISO’s latest initiative is part of a wider programme to further the goal of ensuring that products, services and systems are safe, fit for purpose and consider consumers’ right to privacy and protection of their personal data. It was also aimed at supporting ISO’s global vision of “making lives easier, safer and better”.

Learn more about ISO and consumer issues.

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