The CEN Strategic Advisory Body on Environment (SABE) acts as a platform where the major stakeholders of the CEN community discuss current environmental issues at international level. It seeks to identify ways in which environmental protection can be enhanced by using standards. CEN’s Technical Board relies on SABE to provide it with strategic advice and expertise on environmental matters.

CEN has 34 National Standards Bodies (NSBs) as its members. However SABE has noted that, at its own meetings, NSB participation is often limited to no more than12, that these overwhelmingly come from the north and west of Europe and that SABE is the poorer for these limits to its expertise and perspective.

The latest EU Regulation on European standardisation seeks to make the process more inclusive, encouraging representation and effective participation of all relevant stakeholders. So, as part of its own strategy, SABE supported a project proposal designed to overcome the disadvantage that smaller and newer countries experience, with fewer resources to cover all committees.

This project, supported by the EU and EFTA, is now starting, with CEN partnering the NSBs of Romania (ASRO), Bulgaria (BDS), Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (ISRM), Lithuania (LST), Latvia (LVS), Malta (MCCAA), the Czech Republic (UNM). The Cyprus Organisation for Standardisation (CYS) is co-ordinating the project with the help of the Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS).

It lasts 3½ years and involves the partner standards bodies and representatives of their stakeholder organisations in the work of SABE. Each country will send two members, one from the NSB and one societal stakeholder representative, to each SABE meeting. They will be encouraged to join in the work of SABE’s technical teams, dealing with environmental management, environmental issues in product standards, and environmental monitoring. The project will also organise in each country a stakeholders’ workshop where the work of SABE will be discussed by the wider stakeholder community. It will end with a European Workshop where we seek to learn the lessons of the project and aim to make it sustainable in the long term.

The early work of the project will include the identification in each participating country of the NGO that is most able to act as the representative of the societal stakeholders. It will be a key role of the NGO to raise awareness among environmental stakeholders and society in general about the importance of environmental aspects in standardisation.

The kick-off meeting of the project will take place at the next SABE meeting, in Limassol, Cyprus on 19th April.