New ISO standard to help communities manage sustainable development

How can a community become more sustainable? What strategy should it adopt? A new ISO standard will help communities answer these questions and put in place a framework to become more sustainable and resilient.
Rapid urbanization, both in the developed and the developing world, brings with it challenges for local, national and regional authorities linked, for example, to the spatial distribution of people and resources, or the use and consumption of land.

A new International Standard, ISO 37101, Sustainable development in communities – Management system for sustainable development – Requirements with guidance for use, will support communities to put in place a sustainable development strategy that takes into account their economic, social and environmental context.

The standard will also encourage communities to become more proactive and help them show interested parties that an appropriate management system is in place.

The successful implementation of the standard will:

Generate and build consensus on sustainable development within communities
Improve the sustainability, smartness and resilience of strategies, programmes or plans conducted under the responsibility of communities or on the territory they relate to
Improve the local environment, create a happier and healthier place for citizens, and build a community that can better anticipate and adapt to natural disasters, economic shocks and climate change
A multi-actor approach

ISO 37101 focuses on communities as a stepping stone towards the sustainability of society as a whole. Communities are composed of a variety of entities and people living, working and interacting with each other. Therefore, involving interested parties in a cooperative dialogue for more sustainable solutions is a key point when implementing the standard.

Bernard Gindroz, Chair of ISO/TC 268, Sustainable cities and communities, said: “The purpose of the standard is all about helping the community to put in place a sustainable development plan with all the concerned actors. The point is to get as many people as possible around the table debating on how to develop a sustainable development strategy for a community.”

ISO 37101, like other management system standards, is based on the continual improvement cycle Plan-Do-Check-Act. This means that users are required to regularly adjust their objectives and strategy to ensure they are constantly moving forward.

ISO 37101:2016 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 268, Sustainable cities and communities, whose secretariat is held by AFNOR, the ISO member for France. It is available from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.