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    CSN update by Scott Steedman (September 2019)

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    Ben Hedley

    September 2019 – CSN Update from Dr Scott Steedman, BSI Director of Standards

     
     
    From the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas to the importance of future trading relationships with Australia, New Zealand and Canada, strengthening our relationships with the Commonwealth countries is becoming ever more important. BSI has been promoting the idea of helping Commonwealth countries to recognise the value of international standards for their economic development and international trade for several years and so we were delighted when this was picked up by the government and a new Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN) was launched by the Prime Minister at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London. 

    A year on and the CSN has 42 members and has become the largest international standards network outside the formal international standards organisations ISO and IEC. The CSN is a network for Commonwealth members, their National Standards Bodies, regional associations, and interested stakeholders from all countries to share best practice, furthering trade and economic prosperity throughout the Commonwealth.

    Not all Commonwealth countries have National Standards Bodies or are actively involved in the international standards development community. CSN creates an opportunity for smaller countries to learn from established members and participate in international standards development.

    Since the launch last year we have worked with Commonwealth countries to develop a training programme focussed on raising awareness of the benefits in using international standards and empowering Commonwealth countries to play a more active role in standards development.

    Our ambition for the CSN, as for the whole of the international standards system, is to be as open and inclusive as possible. If you are interested in what standards can do for you and your organisation, you can register at www.commonwealthstandards.net.  

    Beyond training and resources like toolkits and frameworks for using standards effectively, we are delivering donor funded technical assistance projects into developing Commonwealth countries. For example, in Uganda and Zambia technical experts are aiming to stimulate interest and demand for their respective National Quality Infrastructures and advocating the benefits of an effective Quality Infrastructure framework in the region. In Oceania, the work will aim to contribute to the removal of Technical Barriers to Trade for Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu to enable easier movement of goods and services between them and their trading partners internationally. In St Lucia, there has been work on improving standardizaton best practices, the development of a National Quality Policy, certification skills and NSB marketing and communication strategies.

    We hope that the benefits of the CSN will also be felt by non-Commonwealth countries, as they will see a reduction in trade costs from using the same single international standard for trade and exports, ‘one standard used everywhere’, which they participated in developing.

    This week the CSN countries will meet in Cape Town, during the ISO General Assembly. It will be an opportunity for CSN members to share ideas, influence the work programme and put proposals together for the future of the network. I am delighted that the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Nigel Casey, will give a keynote address setting the scene for the exchange of best practice knowledge between countries.

    The CSN has been one of the great achievements of the last 12 months. It has huge potential to strengthen nations north and south, east and west through international standards. Roll on 2020!

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