Message from the Chairman, BNSI on the occasion of the World Standards Day 2022, 14th October, 2022

Message from the Chairman, BNSI on the occasion of the World Standards Day 2022, 14th October, 2022 under the theme “Shared Vision for a Better World”

On this occasion of World Standards Day 2022, the BNSI celebrates with the World in recognising the standards professionals and stakeholders who contribute to this noble public good. Special credit is given to our stakeholders in the Technical Committees, considering they are the experts in their given fields of endeavour who voluntarily contribute their time, energy and expertise to help build a better world for us all!

World Standards Day was initially launched in 1970, and is now recognised and celebrated by many countries around the globe. The theme for this year is, “Shared Vision for a Better World”. A shared vision for all represents the voices of the global community calling for a better, fairer and more sustainable world. A hope and a promise that the world can be enjoyed today and also protected for future generations to come. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been identified as the compass that points the world in the direction of a shared vision for peace, prosperity, for people and the planet.

To realise this vision, the imminent and forthcoming challenges and problems of this world, which are also relevant to Barbados, need to be identified and accepted as existential threats to our way of life. Thankfully, the world has coalesced on the following as areas for further work: Climate Change; Environmental Protection; Sustainability; the Sharing Economy; Ageing Populations; and Digital Transformation. All of these areas are relevant to us in Barbados and if not addressed appropriately, present a possible measure of disruption that needs to be prioritised for our society and nation to continue to prosper.  

The Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) is the premier scientific organisation in Barbados. It was established in 1973 as a public-private partnership between the Government of Barbados and the private sector. Our governance is established and implemented through a Board of Directors comprising public officers from several ministries and members of the private sector. Operationally, the Institution is headed by a Director with a current staff complement of twenty (20) persons.

The BNSI is the lead authority in the National Quality Infrastructure. We are committed to establishing and bringing about a change in culture in Barbados to a quality culture. Our mission is to facilitate, through standardisation and its related activities, a well-developed national quality infrastructure and promote the international competitiveness of Barbadian stakeholders in all sectors of the economy. We accomplish this through the five (5) pillars of quality infrastructure, mainly (1) Standardisation – the development of a benchmark, or specification; what is termed a minimum requirement to achieve a solution to a common and repeated problem; (2)Testing, Inspection, and Certification, collectively these three (3) activities are called Conformity Assessment, (3) Metrology – the science of measurement. We use metrology to facilitate trade and consumer protection. (4) Accreditation services – confirmation that organisations involved in testing and certification are competent to deliver their services accurately and repeatedly so the slogan, Tested Once, Accepted Everywhere is in action; and (5) the promotion of Quality – so that the excellent work done by the BNSI is communicated to all stakeholders.

The BNSI has heard the appeal for assistance with the country’s challenges from business, government and society and intends to treat to them through the tools of the National Quality Infrastructure. Following on from the London Declaration in 2021, to combat climate change through standards, the BNSI, along with its development partner, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), committed to the achievement of the climate agenda by 2050. It should be noted that climate action has already been addressed with the development and publication of standards for renewable energy technologies that can replace carbon emitting energy technologies driven by fossil fuel. Furthermore, improving the efficiency of appliances and devices so that they consume less energy to get the job done. I am made to understand that future work will now look at engaging and involving consumers who would have the power to select the most energy efficient appliances from the showroom floor at retail stores.

Standards for environmental management have been published decades ago and have been implemented by the private sector, with some seeing tremendous benefits, such as an improvement in recycling from 2 % to 98 %. An excellent achievement in reducing the burden on our landfill and, ultimately, protecting our groundwater supply. The implementation of environmental standards has also seen economic benefits such as a 15 % increase in productivity.

The BNSI has begun to support a new demand by stakeholders and exporters for sustainability standards which more sophisticated markets have been demanding. ‘Voluntary Sustainability Standards’ indicate to the purchaser that a product has been made with sustainability measures taken to ensure the longevity of raw materials, the final product and the planet.

This sustainability thrust is also being expanded to one of our main foreign exchange earners, the tourism sector. As the sector’s recovery gets underway, putting people and the planet first is the best approach to achieving a shared vision for a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient sector. BNSI’s participation in the development of international standards for tourism brings a sustainability lens to the tourism industry.

As these global challenges are being addressed, we are also cognizant of the need to address future trends that will guide our strategic decisions to achieve our shared vision. Currently, with geopolitical upheaval, climate action, the continued emergence of new digital business models, changing consumer preferences and the legacy impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is now a more fragmented place. Standardisation has the power to bring societies, businesses, governments and countries together as we maintain common protocols, approaches, definitions and best practices toward shared goals.

Trade in services has already outpaced trade in goods, and this trend is expected to continue, particularly with the anticipated rise of digital financial services as has been recently announced and those that are coming post the recent AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022.

The Sharing Economy has also been identified as one of the areas for standardisation as it presents a means of poverty reduction and economic enfranchisement of the people. As the sharing economy cuts out the middlemen and bypasses the traditional steps in the supply chain by providing goods and services directly via the internet, there needs to be fair and equitable commerce, as well as consumer protection measures built into these platforms.

Barbados, along with the world, is experiencing an ageing population. While this global phenomenon is worth celebrating, it means there needs to be better access to healthcare and age-related accessibility requirements within our standards to adequately cater to the needs of this stakeholder group. As persons work later in their golden years, the BNSI and ISO are working to “support the development and deployment of innovations and technologies; that will include guidelines for more inclusive workplaces and novel health monitoring tools that enable older people to maintain active, fulfilling lives, as well as their contributions to society.”

As Chairman of the Board of Directors of the BNSI, I wish to acknowledge that the Board has a collective responsibility to retool the BNSI in preparation for the next decade of challenges. In this regard, the Board is committed to guiding the decision-making and strategic initiatives of the Institution by managing and building the human capacity to adapt and apply relevant technologies to improve efficiency and productivity. Support is given to the regulatory framework that exists to stimulate economic growth, trade, commerce and consumerism. Data is used to capture and advance evidence-based decision making to formulate appropriate policy. Sustained improvements to the laboratory services offered in Barbados, in order to meet the current and projected needs of industry, consumers and the ever-increasing demands of foreign markets. National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) services are strategically being positioned to match the needs of businesses, government and society. By implementing a National Quality Policy (NQP) Barbados stands to improve the competitiveness of Barbadian goods and services. 

We strongly support the need to maintain a continuous regime of training for employees and senior management, where we are hoping to build out capabilities in meeting these forthcoming challenges and bring to bear a standards and quality-related solution for a better world.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, industry professionals, academics, experts, consultants, students, policymakers, I urge you all to give your full support to the BNSI in this shared vision for a better Barbados.

You can do so by heeding our call to action for stakeholders to get engaged and get involved in the work of standards development by contributing your knowledge and expertise for the sustainable development of our beloved home that is Barbados.