Sustainable economic growth and decent work: which standards can help you achieve SDG 8?

The United Nations laid out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to foster a more sustainable world by 2030. However, sustainability does not mean putting the brakes on economic growth and progress. On the contrary: SDG 8 aims to promote sustained economic growth while respecting people and the environment. Find out how standards can help your organisation translate this goal into practice.


What is SDG 8?

Sustainable Development Goal 8 covers ‘sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.’ In other words: progress that makes things better for everyone and where everyone is treated the same.

But it is not just about people. Natural resources also play an important role in our economy. Our ecosystem also contributes to the economy through raw materials and resources such as water, wood and minerals and indirect services such as water purification, flood risk management and recycling. These raw materials and resources should be used in a sustainable way.


SDG 8 in figure

375 million

Every year, there are approximately 375 million non-fatal accidents at work and work-related illnesses which often lead to long periods of absence from work.

2.78 million

That is how many deaths occur at work every year.


Every day, approximately 7,700 people die as a result of work-related illnesses or accidents at work.

476 billion

On average, the indirect and direct costs of illness, accidents and deaths at work in the European Union amount to 3.3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 476 billion euros per annum.


If we don’t invest in employee health and safety, the economic loss is almost equal to the combined GDP of the 130 poorest countries.

Source: International Labour Organisation.


What is the importance of standards for SDG 8?

Every organisation strives to achieve economic growth. However, in trying to realise this ambition, it’s common to encounter stumbling blocks – especially if attempting to reconcile economic success and decent work. Standards can help to remove these obstacles and ensure decent work opportunities for everyone.

Below are four concrete examples and associated benefits of Sustainable Development Goal 8.


  1. ISO standards provide a common language and internationally accepted specifications for both national and international rules and regulations.
    The benefit for you? A common communication framework for economic growth.
  1. ISO standards are the result of best practices and international consensus.
    The benefit for you? Standards are tried and tested tools used to remove barriers to international trade.
  1. The ISO 45001 standard for workplace health and safety promotes decent work, among other things.
    The benefit for you? You can ensure the health and safety of your employees.
  1. ISO standards such as ISO 37001 on anti-bribery management systems address corrupt practices.
    The benefit for you? You can improve employment opportunities, combat bribery and work on an anti-bribery culture that contributes towards economic well-being.


Which standards can help to achieve SDG 8?

ISO standards support sustainable and fair economic policy. Following is a selection of the most crucial standards.

1. ISO 45001:2018
Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use 

2. ISO 14001:2015
Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use

3. ISO 37001:2016
Anti-bribery management systems – Requirements with guidance for use

4. ISO 26000:2010
Guidance on social responsibility 

5. ISO 19011:2018
Guidance for auditing management systems 

6. ISO 20400:2017
Sustainable procurement – Guidance 

7. ISO 31000:2018
Risk management – Guidelines

8. ISO 9004:2018
Quality management – Quality of an organization – Guidance to achieve sustained success 

9. ISO 10001:2018
Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for codes of conduct for organizations

10. ISO 10002:2018
Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations

11. ISO 10003:2018
Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for dispute resolution external to organizations

12. ISO 10008:2013
Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for business-to-consumer electronic commerce transactions 

13. ISO 55000:2014
Asset management – Overview, principles and terminology 

14. ISO 55001:2014
Asset management – Management systems - Requirements 


How should you go about implementing standards?

The NBN can help you put the SDGs into practice within your company or organisation. Purchase standards, take one of our training courses to gain insights into certain standards, and/or join committees on Sustainable Development Goals and make your voice heard.

  • Are you interested in purchasing one or more standards? You can do that via your personalised standards catalogue in myNBN or via the e-shop.
  • Would you like to broaden your knowledge through training? Send us an e-mail at or call 02 300 78 52.

Here is a selection of what we have to offer:


  • Would you like to help develop standards? We invite you to join one of our committees. Send us an e-mail at or call 02 300 78 53.