Science and the development of New Zealand Standards
The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon Kris Faafoi, asked the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor to work jointly with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to examine how science is treated in the New Zealand standards setting process – and how this can be improved.
What are standards?
Standards refers to specifications for products, processes, services and performance. Standards may be voluntary if they are recommendations or mandatory if they are enacted in law. Standards New Zealand is the body responsible for developing standards in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Our role was to provide input on how scientific evidence might be better used to inform the standards setting process, and in particular, provide advice on how processes should accommodate new scientific evidence when it becomes available.
This request arose following a report by the former Chief Science Advisor on methamphetamine contamination in residential properties and NZS 8510:2017
Published by MBIE on 8 May 2019
Following joint work between the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor (PMCSA) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) on the science-focussed elements of future standards development, Standards New Zealand will now seek the involvement of the MBIE Chief Science Advisor when developing new standards or revising existing standards which include new or unsettled science. This may occur:
- during commissioning of the new or revised standard
- during standard development
- while a draft standard is undergoing public consultation.
The MBIE Chief Science Advisor will then engage with the wider departmental chief science advisor network led by the PMCSA. Standards New Zealand and the relevant standard development committee can take this science advice at any stage of the standards development process. Standards New Zealand and the chief science advisors are also working proactively to identify standards already under development or revision that could benefit from this process.
The collaboration between the PMCSA, the departmental chief science advisor network and Standards New Zealand will provide a robust source of evidence for future standards development.