Abu Dhabi, UAE: The International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) General Assembly took place on Thursday during the ISO Annual Meeting 2022, which is being hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) in Abu Dhabi. Members elected a new President to follow Ulrika Francke, whose term ends in December 2023. Korea’s representative Dr. Sung Hwan Cho was named as ISO’s President-elect, whose term will start in January 2024.

Four new ISO Council members were also elected including Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), Brazil, Egyptian Organization for Standardization & Quality (EOS), Egypt, Ente Italiano di Normazione (UNI), Italy, and Instituto de Normas Técnicas de Costa Rica (INTECO), Costa Rica.

His Excellency Omar Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, said: “I would like to express my ongoing support for Ulrika Francke and gratitude for her continuous and exemplary leadership as ISO President. I also wish to congratulate Dr. Sung Hwan Cho on his appointment as ISO President-elect. Finally, I congratulate our four new ISO Council members. Their election is a reflection of the Council’s confidence in their capacities and this welcome addition to the Council will contribute greatly to the ongoing development of international standards.”

Industry 4.0 and Circular Economy

Experts speaking during a session titled ‘The circular economy: going digital’, pointed out that industry 4.0 technologies have a vital role to play in increasing circularity and developing sustainable economies. But technology must be supported by harmonized standards that enable their widespread adoption and allow innovation to flourish.

During the session, Her Excellency Dr. Farah AlZarooni, Assistant Undersecretary for the Standards and Regulations Sector, at the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, said: “Utilizing advanced technology and AI capabilities could create a step change, which goes beyond realizing incremental efficiency gains to help design an effective economic system that is regenerative by design”.

She added: “Legislators play a crucial role in creating and enabling conditions for a circular economy to emerge and thrive. They set direction and they are drivers of innovation and investment. The UAE is a regional leader in circular economies, because we believe in partnerships and that everyone in the value chain has a role to play, including government, manufacturers, and the consumers.”

The session examined the decisive role of new technologies in accelerating the transition to clean energy and enhancing food security by increasing circularity. The session, which was organized in collaboration with MoIAT, was attended by: Dr. AlZarooni; Sara Jackson, Managing Director, Green Ethics FZ LLC; Catherine Chevauché, Circular Economy Director, Veolia; Nilgün Fatma Tas, Deputy Director Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); and Christian Schiller, CEO and Co-Founder, Cirplus.

The session highlighted the UAE Industry 4.0 program, which is a key pillar in MoIAT’s national industrial strategy and aims to promote the adoption of advanced technologies across the industrial sector. The initiative supports the country’s strategic net zero initiative and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals while supporting national companies to enhance their productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness.

Another key session, ‘The London Declaration – one year on’, reflected on ISO’s progress of the commitment it made last year to supporting climate action. During the panel session, ISO members shared the challenges they are facing, the actions they have taken, and their plans for driving sustainability through standards.

Sustainable tourism

A number of other panel discussions took place on Thursday, including: ‘How relevant will we be in 10 years?’, where thought leaders discussed how to ensure ISO remains important in the future; and ‘Can sustainable tourism really be sustainable?’, which examined how standards can help make travel more sustainable and ensure consumers are making informed decisions.

Two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed by MoIAT on Thursday with the aim of enhancing collaboration between leading national and international standards bodies. They were with ASTM International, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). A further two MoUs were signed by MoIAT during the ISO Annual Meeting 2022, including with the Jordan Standards and Metrology Organization (JSMO) and the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS).

The ISO Annual Meeting 2022 runs from 19–23 September under the theme of ‘Collaborating for good’. More than 5,000 delegates are gathering physically and virtually to discuss how standards can support international trade, innovation, and climate action. Hosting the meeting in the UAE reflects the country’s position as a globally recognized and established industrial hub that is conducive to business growth and exporting. The event signifies the global community’s confidence in the UAE’s quality infrastructure system as well as the role played by the country in helping to enhance standards and conformity at home and abroad.

With the UAE having been a key member of the ISO Council over the last decade, MoIAT is committed to collaborating with global counterparts, aligning with international standards and contributing to their development, and enhancing quality infrastructure while also exchanging experiences and sharing best practices.

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