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Strengthening Institutional Capacity on Sustainability Criteria for Bioenergy

SAWTEE, in collaboration with the Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and with the support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), organized a three day standardization workshop to strengthen the institutional capacity of standard organizations, private sector and other relevant stakeholders from the South and Southeast Asia regions on sustainable criteria for bio-energy. Fifty-two participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam participated in the workshop.

With rising global interest in bio-energy, there is need of common global guidelines on standards related to sustainability criteria for bio-energy. Accordingly, a Working Group draft (ISO 13065) has been prepared at the initiation of the International Standards Organization (ISO). The standard strives to address the environmental, social and economic concerns related to bio-energy.

The workshop was organized to prepare country-specific, and where appropriate regional, comments on the draft ISO 13065 document and submit it to the ISO. After a series of presentations and discussions on the first day, the participants worked in expert working groups on the second day and in national working groups on the third day to formulate their comments to be submitted to the ISO.

During the final session of the workshop, comments on the Working Group draft ISO 13065 document were submitted by each individual expert to the ISO from the workshop venue through e-mail. Few experts from each country who participated in the Kathmandu workshop also participated in the Project Committee meeting held in Frankfurt in May to defend the comments submitted and to ensure that the concerns of South and Southeast Asian countries would be well reflected in the final international standards on sustainability criteria for bio-energy.

The major comments provided by the experts included: a) requirement to take into account the possibility of producing bio-energy from wastes; b) need for international cooperation to help developing countries assess the impact of bio-energy production on food security; and c) need to take into account customary laws and practices while designing sustainability criteria for bio-energy.

During the closing session, Mr Lars Flink, Managing Director of SIS urged the participants to make preparations for the Project Committee meeting to be held in Frankfurt to make sure that ISO standards will really be globally relevant. Dr Posh Raj Pandey, Executive Chairman of SAWTEE said that incapacity to participate in the standard setting process now could create trade barriers later. Therefore, the current exercise is a crucial giant step to transform us from the position of standard takers to standard setters.

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