How developing countries contributed to ISO 26000
by Perla Puterman
This article looks at the significant role played by developing countries in the development of ISO 26000.
The development process of ISO 26000 was special in a number of respects, particularly with regard to the efforts made to ensure the participation of developing countries.
For example, ISO implemented the principle of twinning (twin leadership between a developed and developing country) in the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (ISO/WG SR) to a greater extent than had yet been carried out in a any ISO standards development group. This meant that not only the WG, but also each sub-working group and any other group that was established was headed by representatives of developing countries and developed countries on an equitable basis.
By the end of the five-year development process, experts and observers from 99 ISO member countries were involved and of these, 69 were from developing nations. In addition, six main stakeholder groups were represented: industry; government; labour; consumers: nongovernmental organizations; service, support, research and others, as well as a geographical and gender-based balance of participants. Lastly, 42 public and private sector organizations also took part.
These steps enriched the development process and ensured inclusion and transparency.
In the event, the participation of developing country experts increased from 105 in September 2005 to 221 in May 2009, many of whom actively attended the plenary meetings of the WG with the support from donors, particularly the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Government of Finland.
In order to increase the communication among experts involved in the development of ISO 26000, an ad hoc group was created, the “Developing Country Contact Group (DCCG)”. This was done in 2005 during the developing country workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, which preceded the second ISO/WG SR meeting.
The DCCG was created with the objectives of identifying issues of common concern across all six stakeholder groups, ensuring that these concerns were taken into account in the drafting of ISO 26000, as well of facilitating further research and awareness-raising on the implementation of ISO 26000 in developing countries.
During the last five years, the DCCG has acted as a platform for sharing ideas on the implications of ISO 26000, for organising in collaboration with the ISO Committee on developing country matters (ISO/DEVCO) all the workshops for developing countries held in conjunction with ISO/WG SR, including responsibility for the agenda and the country report summary (from the Lisbon 2006 meeting to Copenhagen 2010).
As a result of these workshops and other events, the participation of developing countries in the ISO 26000 development process was not only high in terms of numbers, but also from a qualitative point of view. Developing countries made major contributions and had significant influence on the decisions made by the WG SR and on the content of ISO 26000.
Why is ISO 26000 important for developing countries?
With the standard now published, it is important to underline what developing countries expect from ISO 26000, how they are planning to implement the standard and which are the main benefits they think can be achieved by implementing ISO 26000.
How to implement ISO 26000
- Liaising with regional organizations and bodies involved in the implementation and use of CSR and SR in the various countries, including a proposals for adoption of ISO 26000 as a regional standard
- Employing the standard as an aid to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of organizations
- A checklist to be developed by national standards bodies (NSBs) to identify and assist various stakeholders in understanding the guidance given the standard and its use
- Adopting ISO 26000 as a national standard
- Developing a national standard based on ISO 26000 to make it more even more accessible and easy to use for all organizations
- Recourse to a public awareness-raising campaign on a large scale (government bodies, NGOs, employers’ federations and others) so that all stakeholders are aware of its existence and know about its principles
- Creating Web pages to promote SR and ISO 26000
- Advancing the inclusion of ISO 26000 core subjects and principles into workshops and seminars dealing with SR-related matters
- Disseminating the standard to those stakeholders who wish to implement it
- Using ISO 26000 as a benchmark tool for existing SR initiatives
- Utilizing ISO 26000 to contribute to greater transparency, governance and integrity, both within government and in industry
- Utilizing the standard as a resource in the development of a national SR/CSR policy
- Learning by using. To raise awareness about ISO 26000 by using it as a basis to describe and analyze real life experiences
- Collaborating with different governmental or nongovernmental bodies/institutions as stakeholders to promote the application of the standard’s principles
What developing countries expect from the ISO 26000 and why we should implement the standard as a means to contribute to their sustainable development?
- ISO 26000 will be a model to establish national standards on SR
- ISO 26000 will become a powerful tool to help companies, governments, associations, entities and non-governmental organizations to incorporate social responsibility as a principle of management, thus contributing to a more conscious and sustainable use of natural and human resources
- ISO 26000 will contribute to increase awareness on social responsibility, establish a common understanding on this issue and promote good practice
- ISO 26000 should benefit society with processes, products and services based on economically viable, environmentally friendly and socially fair practices
- The standard should help develop stronger relationships, mutual trust and reciprocal benefits between organizations and their stakeholders (improved relationships with suppliers, customers, community, etc.)
- ISO 26000 will provide opportunities for organizations to achieve sustainable competitive advantage by integrating the principles of sustainability and SR into their vision and strategy
- It will give guidance for policy development: effectiveness, efficiency, governance and accountability of government departments; a clearer understanding and common perspective of what SR is all about (philosophy, principles, practice)
- ISO 26000 is a structured approach/means of implementing SR programmes by various groups (governmental, nongovernmental, businesses) that will facilitate the actual practice of SR by organizations and its incorporation throughout their activities
- It can be a negotiation tool for labour unions and governments
- ISO 26000 will encourage and facilitate cooperation between small and medium-sized organizations, large organizations, workers, government and civil society on social responsibility. Well managed, it will create opportunities for countries and companies to establish competitive advantages on global markets.
Source: Country reports Summary presented in Developing Countries Workshops