Quality infrastructure (QI) is the backbone of international trade and development. However, many professionals are not familiar with the wide range of services offered by institutes in charge of metrology, standardization and accreditation, and those provided by conformity assessment bodies. Even many companies using quality infrastructure services only know specific service providers for laboratory testing or certifications, but not the system these service providers are part of.
On the other hand, managers and employees of quality infrastructure facilities often find it challenging to present the activities and services they offer understandably. Presenting the entire QI system is even more challenging.
We are convinced that a better understanding of quality infrastructure is essential for various reasons. For companies, market access increasingly depends on being able to demonstrate the quality of products and services. Apart from product quality, customers demand more detailed information about how a product is produced and under what kind of social and environmental conditions. Representatives of economic and trade promotion institutions need to know about QI to be able to help companies access markets. Representatives of consumer associations and civil society require their share of information to ensure consumer protection. Finally, the public sector must be familiar with and partially shape the national quality infrastructure (NQI), as it sets out the regulatory framework and is responsible for protecting the health and safety of citizens and the environment.
This blog is an attempt to inform both laypeople and professionals about QI in straightforward and understandable terms. Moreover, we want to discuss current QI issues and kick-off debates. Our primary aim is to initiate dialogue and exchange across the boundaries of institutions and disciplines. A particular concern of this blog is to shed light on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of QI.
The authors and editors of this blog are Christian Schoen and Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke, economists and partners of the consulting firm Mesopartner. We have many years of experience in development cooperation and, when it comes to QI, we are active as consultants, trainers and moderators for the international cooperation department of the German metrology institute, the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the World Bank Group, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and other national and international institutions. The posts published in this blog relate solely to our personal assessment and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of our clients.
We intend to publish blog posts on QI for development on a regular basis. Each blog post will delve into a specific topic or sub-topic in the field of QI that we think is interesting to present and discuss. We encourage feedback, comments, suggestions and critique. We are also happy to publish contributions of guest bloggers, if they meet the objectives of this blog.