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Published Date: Apr 5, 2000

An Update on ISO 14,000 Series Related Activities (P-27)

Faisal Haq Shaheen, SDPI
2000

Background

Of the 100 strongest economies in the world, 51 are corporate entities.  As the economies of Canada, Europe and the U.S. continue to adjust due to the increasing number of mergers and acquisitions, the number is sure to grow significantly over the next two years.  This is the reality of the global politico economic regime.  The labor force of developed nations is struggling to adjust to the demands of the niche employers and corporate dynamos of the millennium.  Developing nations are struggling to find a balance between attracting foreign investors and losing local industrial strength and market share to the ambitions of larger international corporate entities.  Having outgrown the laws and legislation of their native lands, multi and trans national corporations (MNCs and TNCs) continue to be spurred and molded by the competitive forces of an unregulated, global free market economy and the relentless drive to do things better, faster and cheaper . Given the size of such private sector entities, and the financial strength at their disposal, how does a small economy, and its smaller firms, position itself to survive either along the line of quality and/or cost? How can Pakistani industries elevate their goods and services capabilities to meet international standards and solidify customer relationships with buyers abroad?

The proactive certification of internal management systems to the standards of ISO  9,000 and 14,000 can assist in increasing access to foreign buyers.  It can also facilitate and quantify the promotion and improvement of quality and environmental standards within Pakistan’s private sector.  Various industry leaders in the global market place are actively using the ISO standards as ‘flags’ to indicate some level of commitment to quality and environmental concerns from their suppliers.  This behavior is in response to the increasing demands of down stream clients and the end users themselves for commitment to quality and environmental performance.

At the firm level, the ISO management systems are simply standardized concepts and outlines for documenting self-improvement.  Pakistan’s more organized and better managed firms may already be running management systems with elements that are required by ISO but perhaps not calibrating, measuring or documenting them.

At the national level, building local capacity to monitor Pakistan’s own auditing and registration should be striven for as it is still quite expensive for firms to import expertise, consultants and registrars to grant certifications under a foreign banner.  Furthermore, a competent, local registration body would enable our standards community to capture improvements and popularize management commitment towards quality and environmental performance.   The government should appeal for technical assistance from ISO and the global standards community to facilitate the establishment of a sovereign standards framework that will be recognized globally.
Once such a framework is established, it is possible that input from trade associations, will allow for the evolution of management systems that are sector specific (similar to the growth of QS 9000 from the initiative of automotive manufacturers GM, Ford and Chrysler).  Eventually, agreement among the technical experts from Pakistan’s more established sectors could agree upon certain conditions and systems that would allow for the improvement of quality within the sector through common language and proven practices.  For example, if leaders in the textiles industry could organize and establish standards that tailor a system compliant with ISO 14,000, it would create a collective competitive advantage that could serve as a powerful marketing tool to foreign buyers.  Such strategies will require a great degree of cooperation and cross linkage within sectors, compelling competitors to adopt cooperative and joint strategies.

This paper will provide a ‘millenium update’ on the recent events surrounding the development of the ISO 14,000 standards and particularly how their developments will affect Pakistan and developing nations as a whole.  We will also place emphasis on the way in which environmental standards are being applied to the public sector, in the form of the Sustainable Forestry Management (SFM) standards.