In January 2024, Dr Sung Hwan Cho of the Republic of Korea took up his new position as ISO President. In this welcome message, he shares his thoughts on how ISO can increase its outreach to respond to current global challenges and the focus of his tenure for the coming two years.
I am deeply honoured to have been given the opportunity to serve as President of ISO, the world’s leading standards organization. At a time when our world is changing at an ever-increasing pace, ISO and the standards we develop offer solutions to the complex global challenges facing humanity.
Though we all have different backgrounds and experiences, I wholeheartedly believe that a world built on trust, innovation and collaboration can overcome any obstacle. One common thread that strengthens our connection is International Standards. ISO, through the standards we develop, has a pivotal role to play in steering the world towards a better future, and I am profoundly grateful for the chance to take the helm for the next two years.
Dr. Sung Hwan Cho of Korea takes on the new position of Chairman of the ISO Committee
The power of standards is clear and far-reaching. And yet, for many businesses and organizations, standards are invisible; they exist much like the air around us – unseen but essential. My own appreciation of the importance of standards has grown each time I have encountered them in my professional life. I anticipate that the ISO Presidency will only increase my admiration for the extraordinary potential of standards to transform lives for the better.
During my tenure, I wish to focus on five key pillars of action.
One of my first priorities will be building ISO governance to continue to respond to rapidly evolving global challenges, including the destructive effects of climate change and the rapid growth of innovative technologies, such as AI.
In line with our game-changing London Declaration of 2021, ISO and its members are committed to ensuring that new and existing International Standards are climate-aligned. We have equipped our standards developers with the necessary tools and frameworks to achieve this, so that climate considerations will be built in from the ground up.
ISO and IEC’s joint subcommittee on artificial intelligence, meanwhile, has recently developed the first management system standard devoted to AI (ISO/IEC 42001). The broader aim is to bring about positive societal change while addressing the dangers of misuse in order to share the benefits of this transformational technology.
In order to achieve our goals of ISO standards used everywhere, meeting global needs and all voices heard, it is crucial that we empower developing countries to participate more effectively and equitably in the development and dissemination of International Standards. I will champion ISO’s Action Plan for developing countries and advocate for the delivery of capacity building activities, which are central to this.
Implementation of the Action Plan fosters collaboration with partner organizations and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, leveraging innovation to ensure developing countries reach their full potential. We need to increase participation in this work to guarantee the global relevance of ISO standards and achieve a more balanced, inclusive and sustainable standardization landscape.
Building stronger bridges between ourselves and both business and consumers is another imperative. To accomplish this across every region of the world, we will further develop our communication efforts, expand our presence and enhance the global recognition of ISO in new and dynamic ways.
ISO’s involvement in last year’s COP28 climate conference marked our widest-reaching and highest profile appearance on the international stage to date. We used this opportunity to focus on leveraging ISO standards in the race to net zero and efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
We are also committed to fostering strategic partnerships and engaging with other international organizations, policymakers, standards bodies and end users, as we believe this collaboration creates harmonization and alignment across the standards ecosystem.
I am convinced that by establishing a comprehensive standards education system, based on our capacity building skills, we can raise awareness of ISO and the prominence of International Standards for people of all ages and backgrounds. An early understanding of the everyday benefits of ISO standards can only improve ISO’s reach and effectiveness.
The ISO Strategy 2030 is of central importance to achieving all these aims. Our mission is to make lives easier, safer and better by 2030, in a sustainable and responsive manner, through close collaboration between myself, the Secretary-General, my special advisor, and all ISO national members.
I firmly believe that our members play a pivotal role in this work, acting as facilitators and enablers. ISO and its members have a critical responsibility to the companies and organizations who rely on us for the relevant standards.
To continuously build on our reputation as the world’s most respected standards organization, we must continue to innovate and adapt – with digital dexterity. We are living through a time of unprecedented change, and we must reflect this in all we do. Timeliness in delivering new standards is vital. We must continue to maintain our culture of openness, inclusivity and consensus, making the best use of digital tools to enable greater agility and develop standards that are adaptable and reflect the state of the art.
This approach lies behind digital projects such as SMART, our collaboration with IEC, which will transform the way that users – whether humans or machines – interact with standards in future. This digital leap forward serves the needs of all stakeholders, from industry, regulators and end users to society as a whole, broadening the range of standards use. It is a testament to the power of partnerships and collaboration.
Throughout my tenure as President, I will explore diverse ways in which ISO can partner, protect and innovate, to further grow and progress our 170-member-strong organization. There is no denying the unifying power of standards to build bridges in the most challenging of circumstances. It is with heartfelt gratitude that I accept this opportunity to serve ISO as we continue to be at the forefront of positive change, contributing to a better, more equitable and sustainable world.