Quality infrastructure helps to meet the Sustainable Development Goals

In a previous blog post, we asked whether a new definition of quality is needed. Our answer was affirmative, emphasizing that nowadays quality must always be measured by how it relates to environmental, social and economic sustainability.

In this post, we follow this logic to examine the relationship between Quality Infrastructure (QI) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in more detail. In 2015 the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides a framework for peace and prosperity for the planet and its people. 17 SDGs form the core of the 2030 Agenda. The SDGs demand concerted action in a global partnership to end poverty and other sufferings, improve human health and education, reduce inequality, foster economic growth, combat climate change and preserve oceans and forests.

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The National Quality Law of Costa Rica

Quality Infrastructure fulfils sovereign tasks 

The Quality Infrastructure is organised at the national level. Therefore, we speak of a National Quality System (NQS) or National Quality Infrastructure (NQI). Most countries in the world today have a National Metrology Institute (NMI), a National Standards Institute (NSI) and a National Accreditation Body (NAB). Each of these institutions requires a legal framework because they act in the public interest. In some cases, the Quality Infrastructure institutions even assume sovereign tasks.

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Do we need a new definition of quality?

A comment of Merih Malmqvist Nilsson at a UNIDO Webinar inspired us to write this blog post. Mrs Malmquist is the former head of the Swedish accreditation body SWEDAC, chairs the International Network of Quality Infrastructure (INetQI) and works as a consultant. She believes that the definition of quality in terms of functionality and safety is no longer sufficient and that we need to add sustainability as another dimension. Similar to the triple bottom line (Profit, People and Planet) for enterprises, we need to measure quality also by the ecological and social impact.

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One system, two functions

In the first post of this blog, we explained the term Quality Infrastructure. We referred to the definition by INetQI, which is agreed upon by the international associations for accreditation, metrology, standardisation and supporting international organisations. INetQI defined Quality Infrastructure as follows:

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What is Quality Infrastructure?

The term Quality Infrastructure is relatively new and has so far been familiar to experts only. In this blog post, we like to explain the term in more detail.

We want to start by saying that the term does not mean the quality of infrastructures such as roads, ports or power grids. There is no doubt that Quality Infrastructure services are used for the quality assurance of pieces of physical infrastructure, but the meaning of the term goes much further. We use the term to explain the hard and software required to assure the quality of products and services.

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