Global Experts Collaborate to Develop International Standards
On the occasion of World Standards Day, October 14th, there is progress to report on the development of standards for the cookstoves and fuels sector. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Technical Committee 285 (TC 285) currently has experts from 40 countries, including 25 participating and 15 observing countries, and eight international organizations to develop and approve standards for cookstove testing and evaluation.
“We actually have set an ISO record for the highest percentage of developing countries involved in standards development. With 25 participating countries, 20 of them are developing countries,” said Zacharia Lukorito Chepkania, ISO TC 285 co-secretariat, Kenya Bureau of Standards
There are opportunities to improve the cooking systems, including kitchens, ventilation, and behavior change, and guidance on appropriate methodology and evaluations is needed to ensure optimal impacts in homes. Rapid innovations in clean cookstove design hold tremendous potential, but also require a reliable evaluation of how cookstoves perform.
Just as cars, cellphones, and washing machines need standards to support these global industries, we need appropriate standards to support the growing cookstoves and fuels industry and policies to deliver at scale and make a real impact.
At a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2014, the TC 285 formed four working groups who are responsible for developing draft standards on:
- a framework for stove and fuel evaluation
- harmonized protocols for lab-based testing
- guidelines for field testing, and
- guidelines for examining social impacts
Each group is currently preparing working drafts to be completed in Accra, Ghana in November this year.
“Consensus-building is not always easy, but our process means that we hear all the experts’ opinions, discuss, and then take clear steps forward toward standards that can provide truly meaningful guidance for all stakeholders.” Richard Ebong, Convenor for Working Group on Harmonized Laboratory Testing, Secretariat of Uganda National Standards Committee
[pullquote]Active involvement by developing countries brings widespread benefits, including: influencing the technical content of standards to make sure they reflect specific needs, gaining hands on experience in standardization work that can help build up national infrastructures, and giving early access to information and technological knowledge.
“We need these perspectives to ensure that our standards are relevant for, and will be used, where they are needed most,” Chepkania said.
Following the November meetings, these draft standards will be submitted for further review by the 40 national committees participating in TC 285. Once the working groups incorporate feedback from the national committees, all ISO members will have the opportunity to vote to approve the standards. National-level committees will determine how best to implement the standards within their specific settings in a way that is harmonized within their region and internationally.
“In the culturally and geographically diverse communities like ours, there is a need to narrow the gaps with lab and field testing and have a common understanding of their performances. The standards and guidance would facilitate collaborations amongst the developing world for a common goal of providing clean cooking solutions for all – appropriate to diverse cultural social and economic needs.” Basudev Upadhyay, Project Leader for Working Group for Field Testing, Nepal National Standards Committee
TC 285 welcomes more countries and experts to join in developing robust and realistic standards. See “How to Participate in the Standards Process” for more information.