Increasing the use of standards for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Increasing the use of standards for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Overview

    Vision / description

    The project aims at enhancing the contribution of standardization to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Standards support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development in different ways. Standards support the uptake of resource-saving products and equipment boosting the environmental dimension of sustainability. The transparent and inclusive decision-making process that leads to their adoption empowers all stakeholders, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or other status, supporting the social dimension of the 2030 agenda. Standards also bring technological innovations to scale, drive industry competitiveness, and increase economic productivity, which helps achieve economic development.

    However, the potential of standardization for the realization of the SDGs is neither fully understood nor exploited. The project intends to bridge the gap.

    Project objectives

    The objectives of the project are:
    • promoting the use of standards as a tool for young policymakers, authorities, the civil society, the business communities, and other stakeholders;
    • raising awareness among standards bodies of the 2030 Agenda;
    • strengthening partnerships between international, regional and national standards bodies and UN organizations.

    The objectives will be achieved by implementing the following activities:
    • A1. Support participation by policymakers from developing and least developed countries in the ISO General Assembly and in particular in a Joint UNECE-ISO event on 26 September 2018 on the topic of “Standards for the SDGs”.
    • A2. Development and implementation of a themed research project on standards and SDGs that will be presented during the Joint Event. The study will comprise two parts:
    - a mapping exercise to: (i) identify standards that support the implementation of a selected sample of the 17 SDGs; (ii) analyse to what extent the identified standards can help achieve the SDGs; and (iii) identify gaps and potential areas where new standards are needed;
    - case studies that showcase how national and regional authorities have used standards to progress the implementation of specific SDGs.
    • A3. Preparation and issuance of publications and awareness-raising materials on “Standards for the SDGs” presenting the research project and the highlights of the Joint Event. The materials will be made available in a variety of different forms including online interactive materials, brochures and booklets.


    Policymakers, especially those from developing and least developed countries, local and national authorities, standards bodies, institutions that support the implementation of standards, policymakers, industry, and other standards users.

    Current progress

    The mapping exercise of the research project is ongoing. The research team has looked into the groups of standards of several international standards. Current research focuses on the standards of the regional standards organizations and voluntary sustainability standards.
    The preliminary agenda of the Joint Event has been set.

    Sustainable Development Goals

    1. No poverty; 2. Zero hunger; 3. Good health and well-being; 4. Quality education; 5. Gender equality; 6. Clean water and sanitation; 7. Affordable and clean energy; 8. Decent work and economic growth; 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure; 10. Reduced inequalities; 11. Sustainable cities and communities; 12. Responsible consumption and production; 13. Climate action; 14. Life below water; 15. Life on land; 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions; 17. Partnerships for the goals

    Partnership types of interest

    Advocacy of global issues

    Regions / countries / territories

    Europe: Switzerland

    Issue areas

    Climate Change; Education; Energy; Gender Equality; Labour; Water and Sanitation


    Existing partners

    International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
    International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
    International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
    ASTM International
    International Trade Centre (ITC)
    International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)

    Stakeholders consulted

    Academia; Government; Minority groups; Other; Women; Youth

    Type of support needed

    Advocacy; Functional expertise; Funding; Seed funding

    Collective Action
    • This initiative has a potential for scalability.
    • This initiative is seeking additional partners.
    • This initiative respects all dimensions of sustainable development.
    • This initiative is not submitted with commercial intent.