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IEC discusses its key role in the future of standards at SES annual conference

IEC CEO and General Secretary, Philippe Metzger gave the keynote speech on the first day of the Society for Standards Professionals (SES) 70th Annual Conference which attracted participants from around the world. The theme of the three-day event is the Future of standardization.

Metzger focussed on critical issues for the future of international standards and conformity assessment, the IEC response to the pandemic, and other challenges and opportunities faced by the organization, such as diversity, developing global reach, the impact of digitization, addressing society’s concerns about new technologies, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“IEC Standards and conformity assessment will continue to play a critical role, starting with the post-COVID-19 recovery. IEC work provides the know-how to build a greener, cleaner and more prosperous world. The programmes and initiatives that we are implementing are to ensure that our contribution to society stays relevant”, said Metzger.

Multi-stakeholder organization

IEC is member-led and multi-layered, driven by a global community of experts with diverse backgrounds and interacting with a very broad range of stakeholders. These include, but are not limited to, industry, government and regulators, developing countries, international and regional organisations, and academia. This community of stakeholders provides IEC with a unique and varied mix of perspectives, insights and experiences that keeps its work relevant and our impact global.

Diversity, succession planning and expanding global reach

Metzger noted that IEC has always recognized that diversity increases relevance. The IEC Diversity Statement underlines the importance of inclusion and stresses stakeholder diversity, gender diversity, and geographical diversity for continued global relevance.

IEC is developing guidelines and training material to improve the gender balance in technical committees and IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.

The Affiliate Country Programme expands global reach and enables developing and newly industrializing countries to participate in IEC work without the financial burden of membership.

“Participating countries gain access to IEC International Standards, learn how to set up a national electrotechnical committee, contribute to IEC work and participate in the annual IEC General Meeting and Affiliate Forum. Their insights, experience and knowledge will help to ensure that tomorrow’s standards stay relevant”, said Metzger.

The IEC Young Professionals Programme nurtures the next generation of engineers, scientists and technology experts who will continue to provide the world with solutions in the digital era. It allows young managers and engineers chosen by IEC National Committees to help shape the future of international standards and conformity assessment, while benefitting from important networking opportunities in the world of standards.

Digitalization and addressing societal concerns

Staying relevant means transforming digitally and developing smart standards and conformity assessment services. The future of the IEC is where the future needs of society and the economy will be.

The way standards are developed will change. Future content will move towards Standards as a Service, that will be machine-readable, executable, interpretable and eventually machine controllable. IEC is currently implementing new tools and agile processes to deliver more data-centric standards.

In addition to technical challenges, answers must be found for the many social challenges and ethical dilemmas raised by artificial intelligence and other technologies, such as privacy, security and trust for the widest possible benefit.

“International standards developed by multiple stakeholders ensure the right balance is struck between the desire to deploy artificial intelligence and other new technologies rapidly and the need to study their impact”, said Metzger. “IEC and ISO work together to develop standards in this area, which provide guidelines on managing risk faced by organizations during the development and application of artificial intelligence techniques and systems.”


The IEC mission statement – “IEC everywhere for a safer, more efficient world” means supporting the realization of decarbonization and an all-electric society, in order to ensure global prosperity by providing universal access to affordable energy, generated from renewable and sustainable sources. 

IEC standardization and conformity assessment activities contribute to the UN SDGs by playing a fundamental economic role and support global trade.

IEC promotes the business case for embracing SDGs, which can act as drivers for innovation, opening up new and emerging markets, and creating new opportunities for investment and is mapping its standards against the SDGs.

Metzger concluded by recognizing the unique contribution of the IEC worldwide community of experts and their ability to develop consensus-based solutions that reflect state-of-the-art best practices. The 20,000 plus engineers, scientists and technology experts around the world contribute to IEC work to ensure that standards provide guidance on implementing best practices in safety, efficiency and trustworthiness.

About SES

The Society for Standards Professionals (SES) is a not-for-profit professional membership society dedicated to furthering the knowledge and use of standards and standardization. SES provides a neutral forum where standards users and developers can come together to address mutual issues, opportunities, and interests in ways that work to the benefit of everyone involved with, or affected by, standards. SES members are primarily involved in the development, application, and use of company, government, national, regional, and international standards.  



Read Philippe Metzger's full speech here

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