Initiating an ISO standard for Social LCA?

On June 4th‑ a workshop was organised during the ISO meeting of the Technical committee 207 in Berlin. The purpose was to understand opportunities, state of the art and potential support for a new LCA standard focussing on Social assessment, under the ISO technical committee 207, subcommittee 5. Ilonka de Beer (Program manager of the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics) chaired the meeting and the discussions and there were presentations from the Product Social metrics Roundtable (Mark Goedkoop), the Social LC Alliance (Marzia Traverso) and BASF (Peter Saling, Chairman of SC 5).

About 40 persons from 23 different countries participated in the workshop. While there were many questions, discussions and some serious doubts about the need for such a standard, also much interest and need was expressed for such a standard. Critical questions related for instance to the idea that this would be a “western” standard, imposed on developing countries. It was answered that ISO standards are made for worldwide application and that this would be the situation for a potential new standard as well. There were suggestions that social aspects are not consistent with the scope of the technical committee so far and an adaption of the scope would be possibly needed.

We are currently preparing a draft New Work Item Proposal (NWIP) to define the scope and purpose and take the questions and comments into account. From there on we will need to understand the chance for success. In general, it was shown and acknowledged that the recent developments of companies and organisations for the assessments of social indicators can serve as a good basis for standardisation this work in future.