Thursday, 9 June, 2022
For World Accreditation Day 2022, Emanuele Riva, Chair of the International Accreditation Forum and Chair of the International Network on Quality Infrastructure, looks at how accreditation can help in moving from words to actions in relation to sustainability.

The theme for World Accreditation Day 2022 is ‘Sustainability in economic growth and the environment.’ When it comes to sustainable objectives, certain words and phrases have grown in popularity, such as ‘decarbonisation, digitisation, decentralisation’ or ‘people, planet, prosperity’. However, the concrete actions we have taken, and will take, are what matter. This year, I will take the opportunity to show how accreditation is key to moving from words to actions, in relation to sustainability.

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has recently launched a new working group on sustainability, in order to facilitate the shift from words to actions. The goal of this working group will be to have an immediate and real impact by understanding what is needed and doing it, whether that is directly or by activating partnerships even outside the IAF. We will have the opportunity to have a direct discussion between all the main players in the accreditation area, such as IAF members, International Standards Organization (ISO), British Standards Institute (BSI), International Laboratory Accredication Cooperation (ILAC), United Nations Development programme (UNDP), Assurance Services International (ASI), World Bank and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Data is key

It is also crucial to emphasise the role that a worldwide database on the certification of management systems would have in promoting sustainable finance.

Data is essential. It's something we've been hearing about for some time now. But why is it important in this context? Mainly for three reasons:

  1. To be able to demonstrate, with concrete evidence, the value and contribution that the conformity assessment sector can give to the market. To date, there are various studies, of a predominantly local nature, which demonstrate what the concrete contribution can be in business performance between certified and non-certified companies, in terms of productivity, safety at work and export capacity.
  2. To know the market trends, in terms of general or sectoral trends, including the turnover of the information and communications technology sector.
  3. To provide regulators with updated and complete information on the implementation of sustainability policies, so that the effectiveness of the measures adopted in a certain area can be measured.

If we are to make informed decisions, we need data, and so not only will a database be important, but also an analysis tool.

Single organisation project

I am pleased also to announce that the IAF and ILAC are in the process of becoming one organisation. The real reason behind this project is the desire to increase the ability to listen, and to provide serious and tangible answers, in the face of the objectives set by the 2030 Agenda. Joining forces means greater political weight, ease of being impact, and will allow us to become the drivers of change in accreditation.

A regional approach

Finally, I believe it is important for the International Network for Quality infrastructure (INetQI) to not only focus on international policies, but to focus on regional ones too. For this reason, I welcome the idea of a ‘regional’ Network for Quality infrastructure (RNEtQi). International policies often need targeted and precise solutions, which only a regional structure can satisfy.

All of the above projects and developments in the accreditation sector are projects that will contribute to a more sustainable future: a new IAF working group on sustainability, a regional Network for Quality infrastructure (RNEtQi), a database of management system certifications and an analysis tools that will follow, the new ‘One Organisation’ between IAF and ILAC. These are all projects that will help transition from words to sustainable actions.