Interview with Jennifer Evans, APAC Chair and CEO, NATA
APAC is the regional accreditation cooperation for the Asia Pacific region with a purpose to manage and expand a mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) among accreditation bodies in the Asia Pacific region thereby facilitating the acceptance of conformity assessment results has initiated a series “APAC Blog”. In the first blog APAC Chair, Ms Jennifer Evans, shares her views on ways APAC facilitates trade. She also discusses about the way region and accreditation community contributes in area of sustainability.
Q1. Asia Pacific continues to be the growth engine for world economy. In this scenario based on your vast experience what you feel are opportunities for APAC to facilitate trade.
The Asia Pacific region is the largest in world by any measure – geography, population, GDP, trade, so as a consequence, the opportunities for APAC as the regional cooperation of accreditation bodies, are considerable.
Mutual recognition of accreditation bodies (ABs), accrediting conformity assessment bodies (CABs) such as testing laboratories and certification bodies, facilitates global acceptance of reports and certificates issued by accredited CABs irrespective of where the CAB is located. This in turn enables products to be accepted by importing economies without the need for costly and time-consuming retesting or recertification. Products come to market more quickly, product spoilage and wastage are reduced and additional costs, especially for expensive warehousing, kept to a minimum.
Multilateral arrangements between accreditation bodies provide governments with a credible and robust framework on which to develop and enhance government-to-government bilateral and multilateral international trade agreements. Research from organisations such as OECD, UNIDO and the World Bank confirms that these arrangements have a positive impact on trade in the developed world and can unlock the trading potential of developing economies.
Q 2. What future strategic changes should APAC make to ensure the challenges faced by industry for trade facilitation are reduced
Being the largest regional cooperation of accreditation bodies in the largest and most diverse region brings an obligation to ensure that APAC can support the wide range of needs and capabilities of its member ABs and their economies. One of the major strategic challenges for ABs generally, is the changing ‘face’ of conformity assessment, the pace of change and the need to meet higher stakeholder (including consumer) expectations. The increased frequency of publication of new ISO Standards and the establishment of new sector schemes means that APAC at the regional level, and IAF and ILAC at the international level, need to be agile to support the recognition of these new Standards and schemes within the respective Mutual/Multilateral Recognition Arrangements and their adoption and implementation by ABs.
We have also initiated a new project in cooperation with the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Germany (PTB) ‘Digital Transformation of Accreditation in Asia Pacific’ (the ADAPT project) to facilitate the implementation of digital technologies within APAC itself and in APAC’s member ABs with the aim of maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of interconnections within APAC.
Q 3. Sustainability and environment protection are the buzz words today. What are the areas accreditation can support to ensure compliance requirements are met in these sectors.
The shift to more sustainable forms of production and ethically sourced services that are less resource intensive and more focussed on environmental protection, can be underpinned by conformity assessment services that verify compliance with requirements specified, for example, in legislation. Conformity assessment can also be used to support claims of environmental sustainability in the absence of legislation. Accreditation of a CAB providing these services gives assurance to stakeholders and consumers that the results are reliable and trustworthy and therefore support sustainability objectives.
Conformity assessment activities such as testing, calibration, inspection, certification, validation and verification can play a vital role in a wide range of sectors. For example:
- Accredited laboratories using ISO/IEC 17025 analyse water, air and soil quality, measure noise and emission levels, test for energy usage to support energy efficiency ratings, prepare expert opinions based on test results that can be used in modelling and forecasting
- Inspection bodies may be accredited to ISO/IEC 17020 for activities such as environmental monitoring, vehicle inspections
- Accredited certification activities include management system certification (ISO/IEC 17021-1) supporting certification for environmental management systems (ISO 14001) and energy management systems (ISO 50001); product certification (ISO/IEC 17065) supporting schemes such as GOTS, Textile Exchange, GLOBAL G.A.P., Friend of the Sea, PEFC Chain of Custody, Carbon Trust Standard.
- Accreditation for Verification and Validation under ISO/IEC 17029 supports standards such as ISO 14064 (GHG), ISO 14067 (carbon footprint of products), ISO 14046 (water footprint) and private schemes such as VERRA and CORSIA.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many, many other examples of how accredited conformity assessment activities can support sustainability and environment protection.
Q 4. What aspects should APAC promote to support the businesses and conformity assessment bodies promote the development and implementation of sustainable strategy.
It is vital that where conformity assessment activities are used to support environmental sustainability credentials, irrespective of the industry and irrespective of whether these are legislated or not, end users can rely on those conformity assessment results. Accreditation of the CABs performing these services provides that assurance. APAC must continue to support its member ABs to promote the value of accreditation to their respective stakeholders – government, business, industry and consumers. The best advocates for accreditation are the stakeholders.
Some of the current work being undertaken by APAC includes:
- The establishment of a working group (WG) on Environment and Sustainability under APAC’s Communications and Promotion Committee to keep APAC members up-to-date and provide support on matters related to sustainability and the environment
- A WG on sustainability under the Technical Committee to review and harmonise the implementation of ISO/IEC Standards, scheme requirements and any relevant ILAC/IAF requirements.