SDG 13: which standards give climate action more clout?

Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), number 13 undoubtedly covers one of the most burning themes: climate action. More and more protests are appearing worldwide, with climate marches also taking place regularly in Belgium. It's high time to explain what SDG 13 actually means, what role international standards can play and - above all - how to apply them.


What is SDG 13?

Exceptionally hot years have become the rule rather than the exception: 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were the four warmest years ever measured. As a result, extreme weather phenomena, like  the cyclones in the northern hemisphere, are increasing. In the meantime, coral reefs are disappearing, sea levels are rising and we are not getting our greenhouse gases under control. The consequences are hard to overestimate: food, water and energy supplies, infrastructure works and health systems are under pressure everywhere. SDG 13 therefore wants to encourage organizations to take urgent action to tackle the negative effects of climate change. 


SDG 13 in numbers


Climate promises under the Paris Agreement account for only 1/3 of the emission reductions needed to keep global warming below 2°C. 

26 trillion

That is how many dollars we can collectively save by 2030 through radical climate action. 


The sea level has risen by 20 cm since 1880. At the current rate, 30-122 cm will be added over the next 80 years. 

18 million

The energy sector will create around 18 million additional jobs in the next decade, with a focus on renewable energy sources. 


What is the importance of standards for SDG 13?

Although many organizations acknowledge the urgency and necessity of a sustainable policy, it remains difficult to translate ambition into concrete knowledge and action plans. A lack of measurable goals is an additional stumbling block. 

Standards provide a practical basis or framework for a more sustainable policy. A few examples with associated benefits for Sustainable Development Objective 13: 

  • ISO standards form the basis for measuring and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions.
    Your benefit? A benchmark for reduction programs. 
  • ISO standards help organizations set up energy-efficient processes and use alternative energy sources.
    Your benefit? Lower energy costs and a future-oriented energy policy. 
  • ISO standards stimulate innovation by sharing best practices, so that environmentally friendly technologies see the light of day more quickly.
    Your benefit? Develop products according to the best possible environmental regulations. 
  • ISO standards harmonize the code of use for optimizing the ecological footprint.
    Your benefit? More environmentally conscious choices and a sustainable reputation. 


Which standards are essential to SDG 13?

ISO standards play an important role in the climate agenda. These are the 13 most crucial standards for SDG 13:
  1. ISO 14001:2015
    Environmental Management Systems – Requirements with guidance for use 
  2. ISO 14004:2016
    Environmental Management Systems – General guidelines on implementation 
  3. ISO 14006:2011
    Environmental Management Systems – Guidelines for incorporating ecodesign 
  4. ISO 14040:2006
    Environmental Management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework
  5. ISO 14044:2006
    Environmental Management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines 
  6. ISO 20121:2012
    Event Sustainability Management Systems – Requirements with guidance for use 
  7. ISO 26000:2010
    Guidance on Social Responsibility 
  8. ISO 50001:2018
    Energy Management System – Requirements with guidance for use.
  9. ISO 50002:2014
    Energy Audits – Requirements with guidance for use
  10. ISO 50003:2014
    Energy Management Systems – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of energy management systems
  11. ISO 50004:2014
    Energy Management Systems – Guidance for the implementation, maintenance and improvement of an energy management system
  12. ISO 55000:2014
    Asset Management – Overview, principles and terminology
  13. ISO 55001:2014
    Asset Management – Management Systems – Requirements

How should you go about implementing standards?

The NBN helps you to put the SDGs into practice in your company or organization. Purchase the standards, follow one of our training courses that provide insight into certain standards and/or participate in committees on Sustainable Development Objectives and make your voice heard.
  • Want to purchase one or several standards? Use the personalized standard catalogue in myNBN or visit the e-shop
  • Broaden your expertise with a training course? Contact us via or 02 300 78 52. 

A selection from our offer: 

  • Want to participate in the development of standards? Then take part in one of our committees. Contact us via or 02 300 78 53. 

You can register as an expert and participate in a commission on the circular economy in June 2019.