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ANSI President Discusses U.S. Leadership as Host of 2012 ISO General Assembly

June ISO Focus+ Magazine Feature Offers Insights from Joe Bhatia on International Meeting in San Diego This September

New York, Jun 27, 2012

As the U.S. member to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is proud to serve as host of the 35th ISO General Assembly in San Diego on September 17-22, 2012. While ISO and ANSI ramp up their preparations for the global event, ANSI president and CEO S. Joe Bhatia provided ISO Focus+ magazine with a few thoughts on the importance of the event and U.S. participation. [see related news item]

ISO Focus+: What motivated you to propose the USA as the venue for the ISO General Assembly in 2012?

ANSI is among the most active ISO member bodies because we know that standards and conformance are critical to addressing the technological, economic, and societal challenges that we all face globally. Hosting the ISO 2012 GA reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the importance of international standardization, raises awareness of international standardization within U.S. government and industry, and contributes to the spirit of international cooperation that drives the standardization community.

If there is one key element that is critical to developing the strongest solutions, it is broad participation. With potentially more than 600 invited delegates from 163 ISO member countries and other international or regional organizations, this year’s GA is sure to be a highly interactive and diverse event that is focused on dialogue and action. As host, we look forward to this opportunity to demonstrate U.S. commitment and celebrate international standards as a global solution.

ISO Focus+: An open session on innovation and sustainability will be held during the General Assembly week. What would you like to see coming out of the open session?

As the technical underpinning of many products and services, standards play a critical role in removing barriers to trade, enforcing free trade agreements, and expanding international markets for goods and services. This is particularly true in high-tech, “green” industries like nuclear, wind, and solar technologies and the smart grid. Standardization has the power to help speed those developments and translate them into valuable gains in the global market, while contributing to a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable future worldwide.

The open session is being specifically designed to encourage dynamic discussions among participants, who will explore how existing and possible new standards can support innovation and sustainable/green strategies in various subject areas. In terms of outcomes, you can expect to see an actionable report outlining areas of focus where standardization can be leveraged to help spur innovation and global economic growth. ANSI is planning to publish the proceedings in cooperation with the ISO Central Secretariat to help make the meeting’s outcomes available to the broadest possible audience.

ISO Focus+: This will not be the USA's first time hosting the ISO General Assembly, what has changed since the event was last held in Washington in 1973?

I think the standardization industry itself has seen enormous change. The advent of information technology brought about a whole new set of business needs that rely on standards in more complex and inter-related ways. And in recent years we have seen a shift in the evolution of standards to address broad and global issues such as energy, sustainability, transportation, and cybersecurity. Vast opportunities for innovation and economic growth are developing in new and expanding industry sectors, and standards are absolutely key to helping industry tap into these technologies and bringing them to the market.

In addition, the ISO landscape has broadened, with increased participation from more and more countries around the world bringing greater opportunities for shared knowledge and global harmonization. ANSI shares ISO’s goal of helping developing countries in particular gain the benefits of international standardization, and I look forward to welcoming this diverse group to San Diego.

ISO Focus+: How do you see ANSI in the next five years? What new directions do you see the organization taking?

ANSI has an important and compelling public service mission. The Institute is dedicated to growth, change, and continuous improvement for the overall public good. In the coming years, the core mission of the Institute will not change, but our methods and initiatives will respond to the needs of the public. ANSI will continue to focus on activities that will advance trade, protect the environment, improve safety and health, promote quality, and contribute to the betterment of our lives and the global economy.

In the next five years, specific areas of focus for ANSI will likely target areas that will bring the broadest impact to the community – energy management, IT security, food safety, and environmental safety and health, for example.

Looking forward, ANSI will continue to work with its members, stakeholders, and our regional and international partners to pursue strategic initiatives that create positive change and opportunities for growth. The ISO 2012 GA in San Diego will certainly be a step in this direction. I hope you will join us.

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of ISO Focus+.

For more information on the ISO General Assembly in San Diego, visit the event website


ANSI Focus on Services Standards