This January 2022, Ulrika Francke has begun her new role as ISO President. In this welcome message, she shares her perspectives on the growing importance of ISO and International Standards in the current global context, and the focus of her tenure for the coming two years.
It is indeed a great honour to take up the presidency of ISO, the world’s leading developer of International Standards and a key player in the creation of a sustainable planet. Today, our world is facing its greatest challenges ever, bringing a sense of urgency never seen before.
Throughout my career in construction, urban planning and real estate, and my tenure on the board of the Swedish Institute for Standards (SIS), I saw first-hand how much could be accomplished through international standardization. It became apparent to me that standards are essential tools to solve a multitude of issues. From government to business to civil society, standards allow people around the world to speak a common language and serve as the international benchmark for quality, safety, and, above all, trust.
The process of developing standards, entailing both consensus and transparency, delivers great benefits and efficiency for users of standards. At the 2021 General Assembly in London, ISO as an organization formally approved the London Declaration to combat climate change through standards. This is a truly global task that transcends national borders and will require international cooperation and coordinated solutions at multiple levels. It will require close dialogue and cooperation with all ISO members, who are crucial to promoting the implementation and use of relevant standards in each country and have committed to being a part of this initiative. There is a global need for International Standards to provide reliable, repeatable ways to report metrics associated with climate change data. We must, and we need to, come together as a united community to provide solutions.
It is paramount that developing countries are included in the climate agenda. ISO needs to be ready to build capacity and provide financial and other assistance to members who request guidance and support in this and all areas of ISO’s work. Past President Eddie Njoroge has graciously agreed to stay on as special advisor during my presidency and, in this capacity, he will work in cooperation with the ISO Committee on developing country matters (DEVCO) to raise funds that will help further standardization in the developing world.
Digital transformation is opening new opportunities and prospects the world over and impacts ISO as well. As part of our own evolution, we are embarking on ISO SMART – a transformational programme supporting the digital evolution of standardization – producing standards that are readable, interpretable and executable by machines. This programme will be indispensable for bringing our organization to the forefront of standardization, improving accessibility and ease of use.
Living through a pandemic has been challenging, not least for an international organization. Among many other things, travel and meetings became impossible. As a result, we have all had to learn to interact in new ways, working remotely across different time zones. These challenges have also provided the opportunity to rethink the way we live and work. Virtual meetings are a great complement, not least in helping us reduce travel, but they do present their own set of challenges, and will never fully replace the need for meeting in person. Our challenge now is to combine the things we have learned during the pandemic, with how we would like to interact going forward – to create a new normal for our organization.
Operating under these extraordinary circumstances hasn’t been easy, but organizations like ISO must continue to adapt. We are not the only ones who develop and promote international standards. Deeper collaboration with other international standards organizations will be necessary to ensure consistency and accountability in standards development and, in so doing, avoid reinventing the wheel. It will also be vital to work closely together to advocate the benefit of standards. Strong alliances are more important than ever to operate in today’s changing contexts.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are one example in which the world comes together. Our partnerships can overcome so much more than one organization alone. For its part, ISO can provide the standards that are a prerequisite for reaching economic, social and environmental sustainability. Together, we can achieve our common goals.
In this spirit, I cannot stress the importance of the ISO Strategy 2030 enough. Our vision and goals will guide us and our members in our work to promote the benefits of standards, to develop new standards when needed, using our trusted system of transparency and international consensus.
The focus of my tenure as ISO President will be:
- Guiding the implementation of the London Declaration in support of the SDGs.
- Working with the Secretary-General and his team to implement the ISO Strategy 2030 to deliver standards in a timely manner – maintaining openness and transparency.
- Enhancing the participation of developing countries in international standardization and diversifying the funding for capacity building activities, in collaboration with the Special Advisor to the President and the DEVCO Chair.
- Furthering diversity and inclusion.
- Steadfastly promoting the importance of International Standards and what can be achieved by using them, be it at home in Sweden or anywhere in the world.
As I embark on my Presidency, I am acutely aware of the unusual circumstances our world is facing. These turbulent times call for reinvented leadership, steering ahead with self-determination and unconditional commitment to the success of our organization. I take this opportunity to thank you very sincerely for putting your trust in me. I am confident that, together, we can achieve great things for the good of all – making lives easier, safer and better.