Circular Economy: shifting society to re-use, repair, or recycle requires some new thinking

I was fortunate to participate in the UN’s COP27 climate change conference in Egypt as part of the ISO leadership delegation.

Sun 20 Nov 22


The event hosted thousands of policy makers and expert delegates from across the world who networked and collaborated on a wide range of topics, including the critical role standards play in addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges and delivering on climate action commitments.

Standards are an essential source of know-how to give effect to many of the commitments made to address climate change, in particular the commitment to net-zero by 2050. The launch of the ISO International Workshop Agreement (IWA) guidelines on achieving net zero was a key feature of the forum, advocating for the role of International standards in paving the way to a low carbon global economy.

I have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of the UN COP forum to deliver effective action. However, the event did reinforce my view about Standards Australia’s crucial role in international standards bodies and in our nation’s approach to sustainable practices. At the event I reflected on the important work we are doing in the space.

Standards Australia has several key initiatives under way, all designed to deliver progress in areas where standards can have considerable impact:

• Energy: there is a need to coordinate the introduction of smart energy technologies into legacy grids which were not designed to accommodate them. We are establishing a Smart Energy Advisory Group to help prioritise standards relating to smart energy. This group will combine technical and policy expertise to help advance technical standards.

• Hydrogen: in 2020, eight key hydrogen standards were adopted, but with demand for this cleaner energy source on the rise, more work must be done. Our Hydrogen Technologies Strategic Work Plan summarises our work to date, and outlines a pathway forward.

• Circular Economy: shifting society to re-use, repair, repurpose and/or recycle requires new thinking, frameworks and business models. Standards Australia is coordinating a Circular Economy Advisory Group to strengthen partnerships and identify immediate priority areas. We are also updating technical standards while developing new ones.

• Environmental, Social and Governance: The challenges to ESG investment are considerable, from social inequity to lack of harmonisation of frameworks and lack of trustworthy information. We are developing a one-stop-shop for ESG users, to include a policy toolkit, processes, measurements and validation tools, plus a framework of standards and regulations to help businesses marshal their approach to ESG.

COP27 was an important and educative experience for Standards Australia, and we look forward to working with you to advance our work on climate change.



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