Did you know that there’s an organization made up of representatives from 165 countries that works for the betterment of the world? I’m not talking about the United Nations (UN) – they actually have 193 country members – but rather a little known association made up of worldwide experts with a central coordinating Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
But there is actually a fascinating connection to the UN that I’ll get into later.
Who is the ISO?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been in existence since 1946, with a goal to develop global benchmarks on a number of issues and industries. What began with 25 countries and 67 technical committees has now blossomed into members from 165 countries and 792 technical committees and subcommittees to take care of standards development across the globe.
With an independent non-governmental global network of national standards institutes from each member country, which includes the Standards Council of Canada, ISO brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.
To date, ISO has developed more than 23,300 standards in the fields of technology, energy management, social responsibility, information security, environmental management and even such high-impact industries like freight and packaging, among many, many more.
What is the connection to the UN?
Sustainable development is one of the world’s biggest challenges. As such, in 2015, the UN made a 15-year plan to address some of the world’s most pressing issues; highlighted in their 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With international standards designed to tackle a wide range of global issues through innovation and best practices, ISO standards directly address economic, environmental and societal issues. For each goal, the ISO has identified the standards that make the most significant contribution in these areas.
With ISO standards covering almost every subject imaginable, from technical solutions to systems that organize processes and procedures, there are numerous ISO standards that correspond to each of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
So what does this have to do with us?
In September 2020, Hydro Ottawa officially received its ISO 55001:2014 certification, known as the highest achievement for compliance with best practices in the utility industry for asset management. The certification can only be attained through a rigorous independent audit, and is based on current industry best practices.
Not only is Hydro Ottawa the first electric utility in Canada to receive this certification, but it is one of only three other North American peers in the ISO electrical category to do so. The New York Power Authority, AES Mexico and AES Puerto Rico are among our ISO 55001 cohorts.
In addition to meeting seven of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals that address some of the most pressing issues in the world, our certification signifies superior asset management practices that enable us to achieve a number of important operational and financial goals. They include improving risk management and environmental compliance resulting in reduced costs of our capital investments and operations.
This certification showcases our commitment to continuous improvement to deliver safe, low-cost, clean, reliable power and innovative energy infrastructure and services to our customers and our community.
With ISO 55001:2014 certification, Hydro Ottawa and our customers benefit from:
- enhanced risk management (with better predictability to future performance of our assets)
- environmental regulation compliance
- trust and confidence of investors and stakeholders
- reduced capital and operational costs
- a set framework for dealing with subcontractors
- a safer environment (for customers, employees and the assets themselves)
The ISO 55001:2014 standard contributes to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:
- clean water and sanitation
- affordable and clean energy
- decent work and economic growth
- industry, innovation and infrastructure
- sustainable cities and communities
- responsible consumption and production
- climate action