How ISO Certification helps with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

Thu, October 04 2018

The United Nation's (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) act as a blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for everyone, addressing issues such as poverty, climate change, environmental degradation and prosperity.

The SDGs are interconnected and ask for all countries, no matter their economic status, to address climate change and environmental issues whilst promoting economic and social prosperity.

The UN firmly believe that these goals are achievable by 2030 if everyone works together, from entire countries to local governments, private businesses to individuals.

However, three years into the 15 year plan, there is concern that not enough is being done to meet the  targets.

Progress Slowed

Although overall progress is being made towards many of these targets, there is a worry that progress is not fast enough to be beneficial. This is perhaps most obvious when considering goal 13 - Climate Action - aimed at reducing the impact of climate change.

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on limiting global warming came to the conclusion that limiting global warming would need far more changes to human behaviour than are currently being made. On the report, António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General commented that it was an "ear-splitting wake-up call [...] climate change is running faster than we are - and we are running out of time." 1

"We are not moving fast enough. When one looks at what is happening in the global economy, we are moving more or less in the right direction in the majority of them (SDGs), but too slow"

António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

Businesses have an important part to play in getting progress towards the SDGs back on track. Speaking at the Private Sector Forum in September, António Guterres stressed just how vital efforts from industry can be in encouraging change, as their actions can influence both governments and the communities in which they work. Guterres explained: "we count on the private sector to be a driving force to push governments to assume their responsibilities in this very important aspect of our commitments" adding "if companies do their job in the respect for these values and create richness and wealth and help to have communities with cohesion by the way they are integrated in the communities where they operate, companies are indeed contributing decisively".

How ISO Standards can help

To help businesses take on the responsibilities that the UN believes they are capable of in order to meet the SDGs by 2030, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has analysed their Standards in depth to see which align the most.

Their findings reveal that many ISO Standards could help towards meeting multiple SDGs.

ISO 9001 : 2015 - Quality Management

This Standard supports businesses to drive down costs, increase productivity and boost customer satisfaction by being more efficient and quality focused.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 9001 will find they are helping to:

  • encourage industry success by maintaining relationships with everyone in an organisation's supply chain
  • facilitate innovation with a focus on long-term goals
  • ensure responsible consumption by looking to reduce waste and improve quality

The ISO 9001 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 1. No poverty
  • 5. Gender equality
  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 12. Responsible consumption and production
  • 14. Life below water

ISO 14001 : 2015 - Environmental Management

This Standard supports businesses to reduce the environmental impact of their processes, services and other activities.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 14001 will find they are helping to:

  • contribute to achieving the targets set out to reduce climate change such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the UK Government's Clean Air Strategy
  • reduce the negative impact of their business on the surrounding environment on land and at sea by analysing the life-cycle of all business aspects
  • facilitate good health and well-being by reducing air pollution

The ISO 14001 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 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
  • 12. Responsible consumption and production
  • 13. Climate action
  • 14. Life below water
  • 15. Life on land

ISO 22301 : 2012 - Business Continuity Management

This Standard supports businesses to prepare for, monitor, respond to and recover from disruptive events when they arise.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 22301 will find they are helping to:

  • protect surrounding water sources by reducing the risks to, and having plans to recover from, disruptions that would negatively affect them
  • stimulate economic growth by recovering from disruptions quickly through effective crisis management processes
  • help to maintain industry infrastructure after a disruption by recovering quickly and effectively

The ISO 22301 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 6. Clean water and sanitation
  • 7. Affordable and clean energy
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities
  • 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

ISO 28000 : 2007 - Supply Chain Security

This Standard supports businesses to  identify potential threats, control and influence activities that impact on supply chain security, including the transportation of goods, and ensure continuity of business.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 28000 will find they are helping to:

  • encourage strong industry relations by communicating disruption plans and getting buy-in from supply chain partners
  • stimulate economic growth through expedited cross-border trade
  • improve industry infrastructure by managing security risks across the supply chain

The ISO 28000 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities

ISO 31000 : 2018 - Risk Management

This Standard supports businesses to embed risk management into every aspect of their organisation, systems and processes.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 31000 will find they are helping to:

  • encourage industry growth by turning risks into opportunities in all aspects of business
  • facilitate the well-being of employees by reducing risks to their health and safety
  • protect the environment by examining how business processes can negatively impact on it and putting measures in place to prevent these issues from occurring or manage them effectively when they do

The ISO 31000 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 3. Good health and well-being
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 14. Life below water
  • 15. Life on land
  • 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

ISO 37001 : 2016 - Anti-bribery Management

This Standard supports businesses to establish a culture of integrity and transparency by combating and preventing bribery and corruption.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 37001 will find they are helping to:

  • promote economic growth through transparent processes
  • reduce bribery which can cause large gaps in wealth - a major cause of poverty
  • increase accountability, contributing to justice and strong institutions

The ISO 37001 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 10. Reduced inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities
  • 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

ISO 44001 : 2017- Collaborative Business Relationships

This Standard supports businesses to work efficiently with other businesses so that all sides benefit from the relationship.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 44001 will find they are helping to:

  • encourage economic growth through collaborative working
  • reduce waste by sharing resources, risks, skills and costs
  • facilitate strong institutions by building better relationships

The ISO 44001 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

ISO 45001 : 2018 - Health & Safety Management

This Standard supports businesses to control Health and Safety risks, protect employees and meet legal obligations.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 45001 will find they are helping to:

  • encourage good health and well-being by protecting their employees from harm
  • reduce inequality through measures to ensure all employees regardless of ability are catered for
  • promote decent work by setting out best practice guidelines

The ISO 45001 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 3. Good health and well-being
  • 5. Gender equality
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities
  • 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

ISO 50001 : 2018 - Energy Management

This Standard supports businesses to improve energy performance, efficiency, use and consumption.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 50001 will find they are helping to:

  • protect the environment by sourcing energy from clean sources
  • ensure responsible consumption through efforts to reduce waste
  • facilitate sustainable communities by reducing the use of finite energy resources

The ISO 50001 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs:

  • 7. Affordable and clean energy
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities
  • 12. Responsible consumption and production
  • 13. Climate action

ISO 55001 : 2014 - Asset Management

This Standard helps organisations to manage and enhance the value of their assets across the business life cycle, from acquisition to decommission.

Businesses following the guidance of ISO 55001 will find they are helping to:

  • promote economic growth by getting the most out of business assets
  • reduce barriers to international trade by facilitating the use of a common language
  • ensure responsible consumption of energy and water assets

The ISO 55001 Standard aligns specifically with the following SDGs: 

  • 6. Clean water and sanitation
  • 7. Affordable and clean energy
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities
  • 12. Responsible consumption and production
  • 13. Climate action

Want to know more?

The full description of each of the SDGs is available on the UN's SGD portal. Here you will also find a wealth of information on how businesses and individuals can do their part to meet the goals. In particular, Level 4 of the "The Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World" shows a number of ideas and areas for improvement that employees may ask you to implement.

You can view a full list of the Standards that the ISO have determined are directly applicable to meeting the UN's SDGs through their online SDG tool.

Finally, if you want to find out more about any of the Standards mentioned above, please do get in touch with our friendly team on 0333 344 3646 or email sales@qmsuk.com.

Footnotes:

1. "Global warming report, an 'ear-splitting wake-up call' warns UN chief" ↩

2. "Private business must be a ‘driving force’ for securing peace, curbing climate change: Guterres" ↩

Michelle Janion

Michelle-Louise Janion

Marketing Executive

Michelle has worked for QMS since 2017, producing engaging content around ISO Standards and other compliance related topics.
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