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ISO COPOLCO Celebrates Thirty Years

Committee considers expanding its scope, supports sustainable energy

New York, Jun 02, 2008

The Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) marked its thirtieth anniversary on May 28-29, 2008 at its annual meeting in Seoul, Korea.

Among the dignitaries honoring the occasion were the prime minister of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Han Seung-soo; Mr. In Suk Nam, administrator of the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS); Mr. Hårkan Murby of Sweden, president of ISO; Mr. Samuel Ochieng, president of Consumers International, Ms. Jai Ok Kim, president of Consumers Korea and chairman of ISO COPOLCO; and Ms. Caroline Warne, immediate past chair of COPOLCO from the United Kingdom. The milestone celebration included video and slide presentations highlighting COPOLCO’s meetings and achievements over the past three decades, and a rice cake cutting ceremony.

Even as it looked back, COPOLCO looked to the future as it discussed a request from the ISO Council that it consider expanding its scope, networking and participation to include non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representing societal interests. The issue was raised by the Council because of ISO’s evolving work program, which has come to address subjects of broader societal interest such as social responsibility, energy, climate change, and sustainability.

A number of COPOLCO members expressed concern that the consumer voice not be diluted in any expansion of COPOLCO and noted that there is still much work to be done to foster consumer participation in standards setting. The COPOLCO chair appointed Mr. James McCabe (American National Standards Institute), chair of the COPOLCO consumer participation working group, to lead a task group that will develop a draft position paper on this issue for consideration by the COPOLCO chair’s group in November.

To facilitate this effort, COPOLCO members will be surveyed on the extent of involvement of public interest NGOs in their national activities and on their potential interest in becoming involved in COPOLCO. Selected international NGOs also will be surveyed.

Immediately preceding the thirtieth anniversary celebration, COPOLCO held a workshop entitled Standards for a sustainable world: how can consumers influence a sustainable energy future? An outcome of the workshop was that COPOLCO indicated its support for a new work item proposed by Consumers International (CI) on guidelines for the assessment and improvement of energy services to users. CI and its members worldwide have worked extensively on network services advocating regulatory structures and standards to guarantee consumer protection, particularly in developing countries, and they have called for a global energy charter for consumers. The proposed standard would seek to improve energy services similar to the standard developed by ISO TC 224 for water services, ISO 24510, Guidelines for the assessment and for the improvement of services to users. To further evaluate the results of the workshop, COPOLCO established a task group within its working group on consumer protection in the global market.

In addition, COPOLCO indicated its support for a declaration made by 230 delegates participating in a May 26 international conference in Seoul – Sustainable World: Climate Change, CSR, Capacity Building. The Seoul Declaration calls on ISO and its members to make greater efforts to counter climate change through standards, and on governments, businesses, and consumers to do their part to facilitate such efforts.

For additional information about these and other outcomes from the COPOLCO meeting, please contact James McCabe, ANSI director of consumer relations (; 212-642-8921).

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