International Organization for Standardization www.iso.org
The Way forward: Developing consumer participation DEVCO/COPOLCO Workshop Train the trainers Paris, France 20-25 February 2009 Acknowledgements to: Association française de normalisation (AFNOR), the Malaysian Association of Standards Users, and the Instituto Argentino de Normalización y Certificación (IRAM)
The way forward: developing consumer participation This input will present two recent experiences. These show that consumers and national standards bodies can take steps to enable consumer participation! It also introduces some resources that have been useful in supporting this.
The way forward – Argentina’s experience:The extremes! National Standards Body: We invite consumers but they don´t come Consumers are not interested Consumer Organizations: We don´t have enough resources We don´t have expertise We don´t have enough time
The way forward – Argentina’s experienceIssues we considered • Is there a model? • Do we need some specific conditions for that? • When can we consider that we are effective? • What is our goal? • How much time do we have available?
The way forward – Argentina’s experience: Consumer perspectives Positive DEVCO/COPOLCO training activities Recommendations from ISO to its members about consumer participation In general….the door is open! Negative An NSB is a “strange house”; something unfamiliar happens inside Many standards are complicated, but of consumer interest(a heavy responsibility) A consumer organization lacks resources (economic and human)
The way forward – Argentina’s experience What did we do? • Started a contact with the NSB directors • Asked for the NSB standards procedures and the different standards that were currently in discussion • Started a good relationship with the NSB coordinators Consumer organizations need the NSB, and the NSB needs consumers in the discussion
The way forward – Argentina’s experienceWhat resources did the consumers have? • Only two people: One engineer and one technical advisor • A magazine • Comparative testing facilities • Our expertise in consumer issues: information, safety issues, advertising, knowledge of several products, comparative testing and…common sense to apply this
The way forward – Argentina’s experience What did we think? Participation in standards will be important for two reasons: • We can give the consumer’s point of view at the discussion … but perhaps only for some items • We can learn a great deal
The way forward – Argentina’s experienceWhat we found within the committees Negative A lot of unknown people (most from industry, some from the NSB, a few from NGOs or academia). In some cases our knowledge of the standard was weak High-level degree of knowledge is required in some standards Positive In general: slow process gave time to learn and influence It is possible to look for alliances or people with an open spirit (if from laboratories, it is better) It is possible to have a “new” meeting to discuss difficult or ambiguous points International network for support (CI, regionals)
The way forward –Argentina’s experience What is effective? • Asking questions about consumer concerns, e.g. safety issues, information, warnings(even if specific information is lacking) • Supporting our opinion with comparative testing(ours or from other independent organizations). • Networking and working with independent, specialist human resources at universities • Being present to express our point of view, even if the outcome is not always successful(this adds value to the participation). Maybe the next time will be our turn…!
The way forward – Argentina’s experienceEven if the door is open…is it enough? National Standards Body Make a bridge: encourage consumer representatives to cross. Find one person inside the NSB to work on consumer issuesAction plan, standards, meetings, etc. Consumer Organizations Study and participate – you will learn and will be effective Knock on the door – frequently This was a good start for us !
The way forward – Argentina’s experienceWhat has IRAM done? • Created a coordinating role inside the Argentine Standards Body, IRAM, to handle consumer issues and start a consumer forum • Appointed a coordinator from the consumer movement • The coordinator’s role - to develop consumer awareness and participation by: • Getting standards on the agenda of the COs through meetings or an electronic bulletin • Supporting the forum by identifying standards of consumer interest, and advising the forum about standards • Looking for ways to improve consumer input.
The way forward – Malaysia’s experience Reaching out to consumers The Malaysian Association of Standards Users Non-governmental organization established in 2004 • Responding to a need for an organization dedicated to representing consumers in standards and standardization-related activitiesInitiative of FOMCA (CI member) • Support and assistance from: • Department of Standards Malaysia (NSB) • Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA).
The way forward – Malaysia’s experience Reaching out to consumers Key attributes of promotional activities Malaysian Association of Standards Users initiated these activities for the NSB: • Developing fun and exciting learning material for: • Students (school consumer clubs) • Adults • Teachers (building capacity – enhanced outreach) • Training courses aimed at teachers and institutes of higher learning.
The way forward – Malaysia’s experience Reaching out to consumers Other activities • Annual essay writing and photography competition in conjunction with World Standards Day • Acts as the national mirror committee secretariat for ISO/COPOLCO(appointed by the NSB) • Now aggressively pursuing toy safety regulations based on theISO 8124 series on toy safety
The way forward –Supporting resources available • ISO Committee on consumer policy(ISO/COPOLCO) • ISO Committee on developing country matters(ISO/DEVCO) • ISO Development and training services unit(ISO/DEVT, the capacity-building arm of ISO) • Consumers International • National, regional and international partners (national standards bodies, government and international agencies)
The Way forward: Resources The next input describes ISO/COPOLCO, ISO/DEVCO and Consumers International in more detail. It will show how consumer representatives and standardizers can work more effectively together, by drawing on their help and experience.