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Protecting consumers in a post-pandemic world

Welcome to the July-August 2020 update of ISO's activities for standards and consumer protection.

COPOLCO is ISO's forum for promoting consumer interests in standardization. It aims to:

  • Enhance the market relevance of International Standards by promoting and facilitating the input of consumers' views into ISO's policies, procedures, standards and services
  • Help consumers around the world benefit from standardization.

What's your country doing for consumer participation?
Why does consumer participation matter, and how can you get your voice heard? Find out in our distance learning module

What's happening

Sustainable cities in the spotlight

ISO is highlighting sustainable cities in its campaign on Protecting the Planet, leading up to World Standards Day on October 14.

Standards for sustainable cities, and other sustainability standards, are key to economic recovery and transitioning towards a more resilient "new normal" in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Responsible use of resources, preserving the environment and improving the well-being of citizens fulfil the intent of SDG 11, Sustainable cities and communities. Standards written by ISO/TC 268, Sustainable cities and communities, work towards these goals by helping communities define their sustainable development objectives and implement strategies to achieve them.

Launch of new projects benefiting consumers

ISO has just established ISO/PC 329, Standardization in the field of consumer incident investigation. The result of this work will be an international standard (guideline) to provide a general guide for investigations of consumer incidents. Consumer incidents are incidents where consumers suffer physical injury or death in the process of using products, services, facilities or the things related to them. Consumer incident investigation means an investigation aiming to prevent incident recurrence, and to contribute to the safety of consumers.

This document is intended to be beneficial to persons, groups, committees or organizations of all types, such as private, public, and non-profit bodies, regardless of the size of the organization which is investigating consumer incidents.

Projects on managing risk for youth and school trips, child care articles and social responsibility were approved in July. 

What's new in standards

Putting sustainability at the heart of the standards agenda

As we become more aware that our current economic model causes rising temperatures, and that this will continue to create havoc with our weather, communities are reacting to address its impact. 

With this in mind, ISO’s Climate Change Coordination Task Force (CCC TF7) has recently developed a new guide to help standards-writers take climate change into consideration with every new standard that is written. ISO Guide 84, Guidelines for addressing climate change in standards, provides a systematic approach, relevant principles and useful information for addressing climate change impacts, risks and opportunities.

The wait is over 

Safe and clean sanitation is a human right, yet over half of the world’s population is denied this right, meaning they hazard life-threatening illnesses every day. Emerging technologies for stand-alone systems that treat waste and turn it into clean water have the potential to restore this right and save lives. The much-awaited International Standard for such systems has just been published.

The new ISO 31800 on faecal sludge specifies requirements and test methods to ensure the performance and safety of units that can serve up to a hundred thousand people. Developed by an ISO expert committee, the standard will help to promote trust amongst industry players, to attract further investment and more widespread use.

Biodiversity takes a life of its own

Biodiversity ensures life. It creates the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, the medicines that save lives and the water we so badly rely on. But over-exploitation of land and species, intensive farming, pollution and climate change have eroded biodiversity to the point that we are now faced with natural disasters, food and water shortages, zoonoses and more. Strengthening biodiversity, therefore, is fundamental to sustainable development.

Recognizing this, ISO has just formed a committee of experts from all over the world dedicated to developing standards that help organizations do just that. ISO/TC 331, Biodiversity, will be chaired by AFNOR, ISO’s member for France, and intends to provide a holistic approach by bringing together, and expanding on, existing national and international expertise to address biodiversity issues.

Electric bikes power up

Perhaps one of the greatest answers to the pollution problem, electric bikes, are the next best thing and the industry is accelerating at record rates. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, sales were booming and strong growth, but cabin fever in the lockdown period prompted an even greater demand. People not only wanted to avoid public transport, they just wanted to get outside.

Recognizing the industry need, ISO has just published a new technical specification dedicated to the safety of electric bikes, to help the technology travel in the right direction. ISO/TS 4210-10 brings together regulations from various countries to provide internationally agreed requirements that ensure their safety.

Looking and feeling your best

If you’re feeling frazzled, burnt out, perhaps need a little facial work, there’s a medical spa that will meet your needs. But how can you be sure you’re in safe hands? New trends for medical spas features two experts who explore the growth of this trillion-dollar-plus industry and explain why the ISO standard for medical spas is a valuable tool that not only keeps the sector healthy and innovative, but also ensures quality. 

See related news on sports and physical fitnessthalassotherapy and medical tourism.  



Around the world


Coming together against the pandemic

Consumers International (CI) has developed a resource page for consumer advocates, showing international initiatives and national campaigns to fight against COVID-19. 

Celebrating 60 years of consumer rights

CI will celebrate its 60th anniversary of the global consumer advocacy movement with outreach activities to address its membership and wider audience, on 17 November 2020. This will be an opportuinty to engage consumers in shaping the future of trade and ensuring a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for all. Follow CI's news for updates. 

Value for money with unit pricing

With consumers worldwide suffering from the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer advocacy has a vital role to play in guiding, advising and informing consumers to ensure they can access a fair and affordable market for essential products and services.

In his recent commentary, Ian Jarrett, CI expert who worked on ISO 21041:2018 Guidance on unit pricing, outlines why consumers can save significant amounts of money when retailers provide the unit price of pre-packaged products, and argues that consumer organizations everywhere should be advocating for retailers to provide consumers with effective unit pricing, especially for pre-packaged food and grocery items.


European standards meeting the challenge
In its Annual Review, ANEC mentions how its strategic considerations to 2030 will require it to reflect on its priorities in the wake of a global health challenge. ANEC President Dermott Jewell emphasizes that European standards can and should bring benefits to both business and the consumer and provide for trust in products and services.

European standard on face coverings
The European standards body CEN published Workshop Agreement CWA 17553 Community face coverings - Guide to minimum requirements, methods of testing & use on 17 June. The CWA was drafted in just over three weeks, following an EC invitation to CEN. It provides the minimum requirements for the design, production and performance assessment of community face coverings (barrier masks) intended for consumers, single-use or reusable. The CWA is available free of charge.

Patient-centred care and social alarms
ANEC participated in the EN 17398, Patient involvement in health care – Minimum requirements for person-centred care’ which was published in June under CEN/TC 450 Patient involvement in person-centred care.


The Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) is now developing 27 national standards in response to the "new normal” related to COVID-19 outbreaks. The list of these standards was approved by the Industrial Product Standards Council governing TISI, including medical devices, personal protective equipment, cloth masks, face shields, goggles for medical use, surgical gowns, negative pressure cabinets, respirators, UVC sterilizers, infrared thermometers, medical head covers, leg covers and hand sanitizers.

These standards will ensure health and safety protection and reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. They will encourage manufacturers making such products to comply with standards.

Nowadays, new products for the “new normal" life come out daily. TISI, as a National Standards Body, intends to expedite standards development and certification processes to cope with new products which may otherwise adversely impact consumer safety, and to ensure that products used by consumers comply with standards and are safe.


The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set a road map for 17 areas that provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The SDGs are closely followed by international and regional standards organizations, and standards are being prepared in accordance with these goals. TSE has placed priority on consumers acting in accordance with these goals and working with standards organizations to contribute to global targets.

In line with SDG 6, Clean water and sanitation, consumers are encouraged to be conscious of water consumption and contribute to protecting the water eco-system. In relation to that,  handwashing is one of the most effective actions to take against the spread of pathogens and to prevent infections, including by the COVID-19 virus.

According to SDG 12, Responsible consumption and production, sustainable development depends on reviewing our consumption patterns and reducing our ecological footprint. Consumers need to reduce food waste and support standards organizations on food safety issues.

SDG 14, Life below water, aims to manage marine and coastal eco-systems in a sustainable manner. Within this scope, consumers need to take action to protect seas and underwater life from pollution. Likewise, SDG 15, Life on land, aims to protect natural habitats and reduce biodiversity loss. In order to achieve these goals, each individual needs to take reponsibility for their actions.


BSI has just appointed Julie Hunter as Chair of its Consumer and Public Interest Network (CPIN). Julie has been a member of CPIN since 2009 and has represented consumers on a wide range of standards, including consumer vulnerability and online reviews. She is co-convenor of ISO/COPOLCO WG 18 on consumers' issues in services standardization and chaired ANEC’s Services Working Group from 2012-2018.

According to Julie, “As CPIN Chair, my ambition is to maximize our positive impact on consumers’ lives. By focusing on issues which pose the greatest risk of harm, CPIN can make life safer, better and fairer for everyone, including those who may be vulnerable.”

BSI has also recently revamped its web pages to help explain better the role of the consumer stakeholder, the BSI Consumer Forum and CPIN. The resources page provides a full suite of consumer leaflets which lay out CPIN’s priorities in the development of British Standards, as well as consumer friendly information on a range of published standards. 


Did you know?

The world’s seventh largest economy based on GDP doesn’t belong to a single country, and isn’t even on land, yet it’s valued at around $3 trillion annually, and supports the livelihoods of more than 3 billion people.

It's the Ocean

Find out how UNCTAD and ISO are supporting SDG14, Life under water.

To find out more

ISO Consumer update is the complimentary newsletter from ISO's Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO). 

See how standards matter for consumers on www.iso.org.

Access more resources on consumers and standards.

Consult past issues of ISO Consumer update.

Visit us on the ISOConsumers Facebook page.

Editor: Dana Kissinger-Matray, Team Leader and Committee Manager, COPOLCO