Our approach

To fully benefit from international standardization, it is important that developing countries are equipped to participate effectively in international standards setting and apply ISO standards at the macro, meso and micro level.

Through our capacity building projects, we transfer knowledge and skills to our members and their stakeholders to help them manage their standardization activities effectively, with a focus on:

  • Benefitting from the application of ISO standards relevant to national priorities and how these standards can support sustainable development and facilitate trade 
  • Applying internationally recognized standardization practices
  • Participating more effectively in the ISO standards-setting process

By doing so, we enhance the capabilities of our members in developing countries to set and achieve development objectives by strengthening the national quality infrastructure, a critical enabler for socio-economic development.

ISO's Action Plan maps out how ISO aims to contribute to improving developing countries' economic growth and access to world markets and helping to achieve sustainable development.

Available in English and French, as well as Russian and Spanish. 

Our interventions are aimed at supporting ISO members – the national standards bodies – although the real beneficiaries are the stakeholders they serve. These include government and regulatory bodies, the private sector (e.g. micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and women-owned businesses), academic and research institutions, and consumer organizations.

The strategic direction of ISO’s capacity building support is provided by the ISO Action Plan for developing countries, which is the general framework describing our commitment in this area. ISO’s developing country members play a major role in the design and delivery of the Action Plan, working primarily through the ISO Committee on developing country matters (DEVCO).


This committee dedicated to developing country matters leads ISO’s work on developing countries and monitors the implementation of the ISO Action Plan for developing countries 2016-2020.
Developing countries in ISO by region
Did you know that two-thirds of ISO members are from developing countries?

How we transfer knowledge and skills

Our projects are implemented at the international, regional and national level through a blend of activities:

  • Digital learning solutions (eLearning courses, virtual classroom activities, microlearning videos, webinars)
  • Distance coaching and mentoring
  • Publications, guidance documents and training materials
  • Sponsorships, including training prior to specific ISO technical committee meetings
  • National and regional seminars, training sessions and workshops 
  • In-country advisory services
  • Sharing of peer learning

The Capacity Building team at the ISO Central Secretariat designs, implements and monitors needs-based development programmes, following a results-based “theory of change” approach. Stakeholder feedback is a key driver to ensure that our programmes stay relevant and support the objectives of ISO members.

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Our partners in capacity building

  • The implementation of the ISO Action Plan for developing countries is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
  • Selected capacity building projects are delivered in collaboration with ITC, UNCTAD, UNIDO and WTO.
  • Many ISO members contribute to the implementation of the ISO Action Plan by providing expertise and financial support.

Interested in becoming a trainer?

Looking for opportunities to work with ISO on specific projects? Check out our ISO Procurement Policy and Procedures and any open opportunities.