What is standardisation?

What is standardisation?

Standards are voluntary agreements, made by stakeholders, on a product, a service or a process. Standards are part of the knowledge economy that underpins European industry and society. They facilitate innovation, promote the adoption of new technologies and facilitate cross-border trade. Also, standards can be used to improve safety and performance, raise levels of energy efficiency, and protect consumers, workers and the environment.

Standards are developed on the global, European and national level. On the European level, standards are developed by so-called technical committees, which are facilitated by the European Standards Organisations (ESOs) CEN and CENELEC and their national member bodies. Standards are drafted by experts, representing all types of stakeholders. The standardisation process is characterized by its transparency, consensus-based decision making and the fact that all interest parties can join the process.

Standards related to disaster resilience and crisis management are developed by multiple technical committees, depending on the exact subject of the standard, and both at the global and European level. On the global level, most standards regarding disaster resilience are developed within ISO/TC 292 Security and Resilience, which consists of over 120 active experts, representing 44 countries. On the European level, CEN/TC 391 Societal and Citizen Security develops relevant standards and decides on the adoption of ISO-standards as European standards.

How are standards initiated?

There are several ways in which the development of a standard can be initiated. Most standards are initiated by stakeholders, participating in technical committees. On their behalf, national standards bodies can propose the development of new standards. Within Europe, the European Commission can also initiate standardisation activities, by issuing so-called standardisation requests. In such a request, the EC requests the ESOs to develop certain standards, usually linked to European directives. Furthermore, the EC can request the ESOs to investigate which standards should be developed in certain sectors, through so-called programming mandates. For the security-sector, the EC issued the programming mandate M/487 in 2012, asking the ESOs to investigate which standardisation activities stakeholders consider to be needed for the specific subjects of crisis management, CBRNE and border security.

What has ResiStand achieved regarding standardisation so far?

Within the ResiStand project, the processes for programming initiatives, such as mandate M/487, were reviewed and analysed. The aim of this analysis is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the processes and to draft recommendations regarding possible improvement of it. The review and analysis of programming initiatives processes are published in deliverable TD1.2 “Lessons identified and learned from past Programming Initiatives”.

To understand the structures of standardisation related to disaster resilience and to know who drafts the standards, the ResiStand project identified and clustered the relevant technical committees, as well as the stakeholders involved in it. These results are published in deliverable D2.1 “Overview of standardisation committees and organisations, including the stakeholders involved, for disaster resilience”.

To gain an understanding of existing and planned standards relevant to disaster resilience, the project currently screens and analyses the work of the main technical committees. The results are expected to be published end of April as deliverable D2.2.

To find out more about standardisation related to disaster resilience, please join one of our Stakeholder Communities, or subscribe to our mailing list here.

By Jolien van Zetten Standardization Consultant Environment and Society NEN