A necessary tool for standards development

Beltraide, reporter business, belize, Belize investmentsBy José Trejo

Director of Belize

Bureau of Standards


As standards developers gather around the world to deliberate on the establishment of new standards, amendments or revisions as the case may be in various subject areas, one must bear in mind that standards are demand-driven.

This is based in part on varying needs which may be of either a public or private interest. These needs may arise from an increase in threats from risks and exposure to health and safety hazards; improvements in technology and changes in innovation; the continuous need to improve quality and competitiveness as market dynamics change etc.

Whether the need is singular or multiple, it falls within the remit of each country’s National Standards Body (NSB) to ensure that standards are developed to serve these needs.

The NSB is motioned and at the same time motivated to coordinate, spearhead and most importantly manage the standards development process. However, it is a responsibility that it does not entirely carry out on its own accord since it must involve all stakeholders that stand to benefit from consensus- based standards and for whom the standards will eventually play a critical role.

The NSB, by way of the regulatory framework under which it operates engages this process through the establishment of Technical Committees (TCs).

Each TC is comprised of a representative group of stakeholders that carry the necessary expertise to pursue and formulate relevant standards.  TCs may eventually lead to the formation of subcommittees depending on the need and the magnitude of the work involved.

Consequently, the NSB in part fulfils its responsibility through a participatory process that relies heavily on the commitment of stakeholders to positively contribute to this process.

You may ask why the participatory process is important. Firstly, the transfer of knowledge is key for this process to be successful. No individual or entity possesses a monopoly on knowledge and therefore success in the standards development process hinges on the drawing of technical expertise from every possible corner.

It also offers an opportunity to formulate a common approach to modern, technical and policy challenges and this will not be possible without collaborative and strengthened links between government and its key stakeholders in relevant sectors.  More so it provides for joint leadership in tackling policy and practical challenges.

Furthermore, the formation of TCs often provides representatives with better insight into the latest technical innovations and the policy context in which these must be framed. This allows then for an improved understanding of an industry’s technical capacity to respond as well as to signal the need for the institutional setting to adjust so as to provide ample support to meet their needs.

In Belize there are currently a total of six TCs that have been established of which three are active.

Functional TCs include those responsible for key areas such as Drinking Water Quality, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, and Tourism.

In Belize, as in all other developing countries the challenge is to meet standards development needs using limited resources across a limited pool of experts. As such, prioritizing needs is essential to better planning and for the establishment of appropriate TCs which are able to deliver standards that are relevant to the wider society.

In the Bureau’s continuous efforts to advocate and promote the use and value of standards in Belize, it expects greater involvement from all stakeholders so that the establishment of TCs will be magnified over time. This promises to be a positive development which will undoubtedly give the country the best opportunity to accelerate economic growth using standards as a key driver and contributor to economic growth.

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