The IPPC Innovative Approach for the Continued Development of International Standards during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Posted on Wed, 03 Jun 2020, 12:52

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Rome, 2 June 2020. To ensure the continuity of the IPPC standard setting process, the Standards Committee (SC) has been using online tools to review and approve three draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) for the first round of consultations.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting cancellation of the annual SC May meeting, the IPPC Secretariat Standards Setting Unit made some contingency plans to facilitate the work of the SC.

In the words of Mr Ezequiel Ferro, SC chairperson: “Suspending the IPPC standard setting process, would have meant a significant delay in the review of draft standards. After considerate discussions, the SC and IPPC Secretariat found mechanisms to avoid interruptions or delays to the standard setting process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is undermining the international movement of commodities. Maintaining the continuity of SC activities in this context is a way of contributing to address the need for an effective international regulatory framework as well as supporting the safe trade of commodities.”

It was agreed that the best approach to move forward was to use the Online Commenting System (OCS) to review the draft standards. The OCS is an online tool, designed for defined stakeholders to apply, share, and publish comments on draft documents. To date, the OCS had been used almost exclusively for the review of draft standards and CPM Recommendations going for first and second consultations.

The reviews took place over a three-week period in April 2020. The SC reviewed one ISPM per week. Once the reviews closed, the SC Steward made all of the necessary changes to the drafts and the Secretariat opened an electronic decision on the IPPC website where the SC formally approved each draft ISPM for first consultation. A report from these reviews will be made available in due course.

The draft 2020 Amendments to ISPM 5, the draft ISPM on the Focused revision of ISPM 12 (“re-export”), and the draft ISPM on Audits in the phytosanitary context will go for consultations from 1 July 2020.

This is a great achievement and innovative step forward for the IPPC community.

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