ISO 26000 international guidance standard on social responsibility

IIED and partners produced three briefing papers on issues related to the development of international social responsibility standards by the International Organization for Standardization.

A diagram showing how the seven core principles of ISO 26000 link to each other

The final version of ISO 26000 is based on seven core principles

The International Organisation for Standardization is the international body for setting specifications for products, services and systems. It has published more than 20,000 international standards that have been adopted in countries around the world. In 2010 it published ISO 26000, the standard on corporate social responsibility (CSR). 

ISO 26000 defines CSR as the responsibility of an organisation for the impact of its decisions and activities on society. The international standard was developed over a period of five years, using a multi-stakeholder approach involving experts from more than 90 countries and 40 international or broadly-based regional organisations involved in different aspects of social responsibility.

Before the start of the development process, IIED collaborated with six partner NGOs to to look at social responsibility standards from a sustainable development perspective. 

The project partners were IIED, IUCN, the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship, Development Alternatives and Recursos e Investigación para el Desarrollo Sustentable (RIDES). 

In 2004 IIED and partners published three briefing papers that highlighted key issues for consideration in the development of international social responsibility standards. The issues addressed were: 

  • Stakeholder capacity to engage in the CSR agenda
  • Small and medium-sided enterprises (SMEs), and 
  • National differences in CSR definitions and priorities. 

While written with an international focus, the papers drew especially on insights from Chile, India and South Africa.

Additional resources

Standards for change? ISO 26000 and sustainable development, Adrian Henriques (2012), IIED Issue Paper

ISO 26000 and global governance for sustainable development, Halina Ward (2012), IIED Issue Paper