Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals through standardization

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a call to action to make the world a safer, more peaceful and prosperous place, for all.

To achieve this, in 2015, United Nations Member States adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Students in Africa
Digitization of learning and training is changing how we deliver education

Building on the former Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), they will guide high-level decisions as they endeavour to eradicate poverty and hunger, improve healthcare and create a cleaner, greener planet. They will also strive to build sustainable cities and communities, ensure quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, as well as resilient infrastructure and sustainable industrialization.

The UN recognizes its vision is as ambitious as it is transformational, and emphasizes the need for all stakeholders – governments (national and local), authorities, international organizations, industry, businesses and civil society – to participate in this process.

The activities of standards development organizations already play a significant role.

Energy, and especially electricity, is the common thread of the SDGs, and beyond that, the development of every nation and economy. IEC work provides the technical foundation for the entire energy chain and all equipment that is driven by electricity. It improves the safety of devices, workers and populations, as well as enabling energy efficiency gains and increasing the resilience and long-term viability of infrastructure.

IEC also operates four conformity assessment schemes, which test and certify that products and services meet IEC standards. The schemes cover electrical equipment and components (IECEE), equipment for use in explosive atmospheres (IECEx), quality assessment for electronic components (IECQ) and equipment for renewable energies (IECRE).

In this issue, we will examine how IEC standardization already contributes towards achieving many of the SDGs.

For example, virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) are used increasingly in education (science, maths and languages) and workplace training (surgery, disaster response and maintenance of power plants). In our article Digital learning is redefining education, we discover how standards enable interoperability of soft- and hardware systems, allowing educators and trainers to tailor teaching to the learner’s needs and preferences, as well as broadening access to education (SDG 4 Quality education).

As growing populations require more electricity, energy providers are increasing the percentage of cleaner, more affordable renewables into the mix. We look at some of the challenges faced and how IECRE certification of solar PV systems limits risks, encourages investment and instils confidence across the industry (SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy).

Last year, storms and extreme weather wreaked havoc on many continents, leaving urban and rural areas without power and many vital services. In our article Recovering from disasters, we learn how IEC standards help strengthen disaster resilience of infrastructure, through built-in safety mechanisms and processes, for example, by including external environmental conditions in the design requirements (SDG 13 Climate action).