A History of NGO Involvement in ISO 14000
NGOs first got involved in the development of the ISO 14000 series standards when the US TAG invited public interest organizations to participate in its activities in 1994. Initially, NGOs found this process time- and resource-consuming and with unclear implications. However, by the Fall of 1997, ECOLOGIA, Community Nutrition Institute and other US NGOs had developed a strategy for more effective participation. The result was the formation of a US NGO Working Group of a dozen organizations with the objective of networking around the issue of ISO 14000 standards development and implementation.
The first significant NGO involvement at the international level took place in June 1998 at the San Francisco plenary of ISO TC 207. Environmental organizations held a separate forum and formulated a number of common concerns about the impacts of ISO 14000 on the global environment. TC 207 issued a resolution to form an NGO Contact Group in order to investigate concerns expressed by the NGOs. At the June 1999 ISO/TC 207 plenary in Seoul, the NGO Contact Group discussed the results of its survey with the ISO/TC 207 leadership. NGOs and the ISO/TC 207 leadership undertook to jointly produce a Joint Discussion Paper which was presented at the Stockholm Plenary in June 2000.
The Joint Discussion Paper describes motivations for NGOs to participate in the ISO/TC 207 process, recognising that these vary depending on the type and the geographic origin of NGOs. The paper also justifies the potential and the actual value of NGOs' participation and outlines a number of issues that need to be resolved to make this participation more productive. Specific mechanisms for NGO participation were presented in the Summary Report of the TC207 NGO Contact Group. The main recommendation of this report is to form an NGO Task Group to TC207.
The NGO TG operated from 2001 until 2003. It produced two key documents: The Guide to NGO Participation in TC 207 and the N590 document entitled Increasing the Effectiveness of NGO Participation in ISO TC207. At its plenary in 2003 in Bali, TC 207 disbanded the NGO TG and created an NGO-CAG Task force to review and recommend for implementation the recommendations of N590.
At the same time, the NGOs present at the 2003 plenary of TC 207 decided to self-organize into an NGO Forum which will continue to address those issues which are important for NGOs and provide outreach to a wider NGO Community. TC 207 officially welcomed the Forum in its Resolution.
If you are interested in ISO 14000 development, subscribe to and take part in our ISO 14000 discussion group. Please email Heather McGray at ECOLOGIA if you would like more information on how to get involved.