To compete in export markets, developing countries strive to increase the volume and range of the products they sell and export. In doing so, countries must also comply with the increasingly stringent market requirements on product quality, safety, health and environmental impact.
UNIDO assists Member States and their industries in complying with many of these international standards. These include compliance with trade standards, testing methods and metrology in order to participate in international trade. Examples include standards regarding food hygiene and food safety (ISO 22000), but there are also other important international systems standards such as quality management (ISO 9001), environmental management (ISO 14001), and social accountability (SA 8000).
In the area of compliance with environmental standards and norms, UNIDO assists Member States in building their capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to implement relevant multilateral environmental agreements such as the Montreal Protocol on the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
UNIDO also brings its expertise to bear on the development of new global standards related to its mandate. Recent examples include collaboration on ISO standards on industrial energy efficiency and corporate social responsibility (CSR). In the context of the latter, UNIDO has developed a methodology as well as a comprehensive programme to support the uptake of human rights and corporate social responsibility in the sphere of small and medium-sized enterprises.
UNIDO views energy as a fundamental prerequisite for economic growth and development. This understanding combined with UNIDO’s key role as a lead agency in the UN-Energy network led to the launch of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative by the United Nations Secretary-General and the dedication of 2012 as International Year of Sustainable Energy for All by the General Assembly. This example clearly demonstrates how UNIDO’s normative role brought about a major initiative towards a global consensus on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.