New ISO Standard for UN SDGs

Proposal to develop a new ISO Management System Standard (MSS) for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

WHAT: A new Management System Standard for SDGs

In a world where confidence and trust are essential for organizations there is a need for ISO to develop a systematic approach to work and document the organizations efforts with the UN SDGs.

Therefore, ISO proposes to make a new management standard (MSS) for the UN SDGs. The MSS will help organizations improve their performance by specifying required steps to achieve SDG-goals, -policies, and -objectives. The purpose is to provide one framework for all types of organizations to work effectively with a relevant selection of the UN’s SDGs.

This enables an organization to improve its sustainable development performance, shape the organization for the future and create a solid, value- and business-based foundation for sustained success.

WHY is it relevant to make an international standard for management of SDGs?

ISO suggests a new MSS for SDGs as the sustainability agenda will continue to be a relevant strategic business driver in the future.

To build confidence the market needs verifiable standards. The national schemes developed by Certification Bodies and private entities emphasizes the need for having a broadly accepted international standard suitable for accredited certification. The standard aims at creating a connection between organizational strategies and the SDGs resulting in business advantages as well as making the SDGs an integrated part of the daily work.

Even though certification may not be needed by many of the users yet, the standard provides a framework and tool for systematic effort with the SDGs. The requirements will be generic and flexible so that each individual organization defines its scope, objectives, and possible improvements. 

New MSS SDG proposal

You are invited to participate

ISO is a non-profit organization based on users all over the world participating in developing standards. 

ISO aims to unite all relevant existing work for SDGs in an international standard by inviting all stakeholders to join the developing process to achieve the best possible standard with a high level of consensus. It takes around 3 years to develop a standard using ISO’s four key principles 

  • Respond to market need 
  • Developed through a multi-stakeholder process 
  • Based on global expert opinion 
  • Based on a consensus 

You can participate either as a member through your national standardization body or as a liaison representing a non-profit organization  
For further information please contact your national standardization body or Danish Standard.

New MSS SDG proposal

More Information

You can find more about the background for the proposal in the justification study and find the scope, proposed content and a list of examples of relevant work the new SDG ISO standard will be developed from in the ISO Form4 under “Study and proposal”. 

If you wish to vote on the proposal/Form4 please contact your national standardization body and inform them of your position before deadline December 8th.

Benefits of an MSS for SDGs

The adoption of a management system supports a strategic direction for an organization and can help to improve the overall performance and provide a sound basis for sustainable development initiatives. 

The potential benefits to an organization of implementing an MSS for SDGs are (but not limited to): 

  • Enhance the opportunity to become a preferred partner 
  • Increase credibility enhancing the chance for getting eg. better external financing 
  • Avoid SDG-washing 
  • Enhance confidence 
  • Enhance the organization’s performance 
  • Fulfil compliance obligation 
  • Achieve selected SDG objectives 
  • Increase success 
  • Create trust and confidence to relevant existing and future stakeholders. 
  • Attract the talents of tomorrow 
  • Ease CSR reporting 
FAQ

1) Is ISO 26000 not sufficient? 
ISO 26000 is a comprehensive and widely used and acknowledged guideline. Even though some certification bodies verify according to ISO 26000 or have developed own schemes based on ISO 26000 there is still a need reflecting today's ecosystem and business requirements.  

 

2) The UN SDGs will be outdated by 2030. How will this upcoming standard stay relevant? 
We are convinced that the UN SDGs will be updated and maybe renamed and stay as relevant as ever.   

 

3) Why not just have a guideline? 
There is definately a need for having substantial guidance within this area, but in the light of a more demanding market where confidence and transparency are key, there is a need for having an auditable management system standard fulfilling this need.  

 

4) Should my organization work with all SDGs to comply to this standard? 
No. However it is required, that based on your stakeholder needs, you must point out which SDGs are of most relevance to the organization and establish appropriate targets and actions to meet those.  

 

5) Do we need another certifiable standard when we can just use eg. Bureau Veritas’ or DNV’s CSR-verification schemes? 
The private schemes and schemes developed by the certification bodies may provide a sound approach for working systematically with the SDGs resulting in a non-accredited certificate. Having a wide range of certification schemes may blur the overall picture and make it difficult to e.g. compare suppliers being certified under different schemes. A recognised ISO management system standard can be part of the solution to this challenge.  

 

6) Concern that another certifiable management system standard will add costs to the already overwhelming costs associated with audits, revisions, inspections etc. 
When an organization chooses to become certified there will be an associated cost. We do believe that when this standard is based on the existing framework of other ISO management system standards, the cost will be significantly lower compared to many alternatives.  

 

7) What is the difference between B-corp certification, UN SDG Impact standards and this proposal?  
The main difference is that this proposal is based on ISOs well-known structure for management system standard known from e.g. ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 9001 and thereby following the structure and foundation of the most deployed certifiable standards in the world.  

 

8) We already have a management system in place. Will this standard be based on ISOs structure for management standards? 
Yes, this to ease integration with management systems already based on ISOs Annex SL.  

 

9) Will ISO develop guidelines, whitepapers and clarification documents to support the users? 
We expect to develop a wide range of guidance and clarification documents, once this standard has been published and we get feedback from the users.  

 

10) Why is ISO chosen as the framework for this standard?    
ISO is known for its “ISO certificates” which are associated with trust, confidence and liability. 

Study and proposal

You can read more about the justification for the MSS proposal in the Justification Study 

You can see the proposal for the MSS SDG standard in Form 4 

 

New MSS SDG proposal

Would you like to share this proposal, please feel free to download this flyer

New MSS SDG proposal

Danish Standards contact information

Kasper Mühlbach
Chief Consultant
kahm@ds.dk
+45 31318261

Mette Sandager
Standardisation Consultant
mjs@ds.dk
+45 21200386