Quality standards are the cornerstone of resilience

Caroline Outa-Ogweno

Caroline Outa-Ogweno.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Standards are the foundation upon which any individual, organisation, association or economy can build resilience. Standards, their functional definition, provides a mutual framework and set of guidelines that enable individuals, organisations and societies to navigate challenges and uncertainties effectively.

They serve as reference points that ensure we are all on the same page, working towards common goals, and respond consistently and cohesively to adversity.

As pillars of resilience and adaptability in various aspects of the ever-dynamic global ecosystem, from technology and business to society as a whole, standards play a crucial role.

As technological advancements and global challenges constantly continue to reshape our landscape, standards should be viewed as the pillars that support our ability to not just survive in our inadequacies and uncertainty but thrive as we seize new opportunities.

They help us to future-proof our thought processes, systems, products and processes, making them adaptable and ready to embrace the world of the unknown.

Forming the bedrock upon which technological innovations and inventions are made, in their functioning, they ensure interoperability, compatibility and safety, fostering an environment where breakthroughs can be leveraged across diverse industries and regions. This interconnectedness fuels progress, satisfies our needs and empowers us to face emerging challenges with confidence and certainty.

Solid footing

Standards facilitate consistency, transparency and mutual recognition in business and trade; enable the establishment of strong supply chains; create quality products and services; and meet regulatory requirements.

This not only enhances competitiveness but also provides a solid footing to address economic fluctuations, demand and supply imbalances and other market volatilities and uncertainties.

On a societal level, they promote inclusivity, sustainability and safety; and underpin social norms, ethical practices and environmental stewardship. Understanding how standards interact with policy and technical regulations in the context of politico-legal and socioeconomic imperatives can help policymakers, regulators and institutions charged with developing standards to work together more effectively.

By adhering to the standards, communities and nations can collectively address issues such as climate change, public health and social equity, bolstering resilience in the face of global challenges.

Standards are vital in building confidence towards an inclusive, sustainable, resilient and digitally empowered future. That requires policymakers and businesses, to cooperate and employ all the controls, including standards.

This echoes the UN secretary-general’s call for common standards to achieve net zero commitments; and to governments, businesses and organisations tirelessly looking to boost cross-border movement of data, goods and services.

Standards are not just rules and regulations; they are the foundations of resilience. They provide the structure, consistency and adaptability required to navigate an ever-changing world with confidence. Embracing and upholding standards is not only a commitment to excellence but also a proactive position toward an optimistic and more resilient future.

Postscript: I congratulate Ms Caroline Outa-Ogweno, Kebs regional manager, Mount Kenya, on her appointment to chair the International Organisation for Standardization Conformity Assessment Committee (ISO/CASCO) in 2024-2025 at the ongoing ISO General Assembly in Brisbane, Australia.

Dr Karau, PhD, is the director, quality assurance and inspection, at Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs). [email protected]. @MuriiraKarau