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ISO 22397 for establishing partnering arrangements published

ISO has published the first International Standard addressing the establishment of partnering arrangements to contribute making organizations in both public and private sectors more resilient. ISO 22397:2014, Societal security – Guidelines for establishing partnering arrangements, will help organizations, regardless of their size, location or activity, to manage multiple relationships for events impacting on societal security. It incorporates principles and describes the process for planning, developing, implementing and reviewing partnering arrangements.

The security and well-being of people increasingly depend on the continuity of vital functions of organizations, local communities, nations and the global community. There are many different roles and responsibilities within and between public, private and not-for profit organizations.

Ivano Roveda, the project leader responsible for writing ISO 22397, explains:

“Some roles and responsibilities are primarily the responsibility of individual organizations while others can be adequately addressed only by the multiple organizations in order to manage risks. In a complex and changing world, organizations need to consider partnering. Partnering is the association with others in an activity or area of common interest in order to achieve individual and collective objectives.”

A partnering arrangement can be between two or more organizations. It can improve the capacity of organizations to enhance prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery programmes. This for a wide range of event(s) which may include natural, human induced disasters with potential impact on an organization, community or society and the environment on which it depends.

When a destabilizing event occurs the involved organizations apply their own security procedures and national and/or international standards on security, if available. In such situations agreements or partnering arrangements can facilitate the organizations to operate as concurrent entities. Traditionally, partnering agreements are mainly established taking into account the specific characteristics of the partners and the agreement is the outcome of a negotiation (a balance of powers) of each partner organization and procedures. Furthermore, if one of the partners change its procedures the agreement shall be updated  according to a typical bottom-up process.

Furthermore the national and international standards on security are written taking into consideration the largest records of events and related best-practices, but cannot intrinsically cover the whole of possibilities. Therefore, during on-site operations, it could happen that the standard does not cover the actual security activity because there is a conflict of responsibility or the relation between the two organizations or operators is not collaborative leading to unfavourable situations

ISO 22397 provides a guidelines to overcome these weaknesses setting up a partnering arrangement among organizations through a top-down process that allows the characterization of the rules of their relationship, the interoperability requirements and governance policy for a proactive coordination and cooperation to face destabilizing events before, during and after their occurrence

Organizations implementing ISO 22397 will reach the following benefits:

  • prevent conflicts among the organizations;
  • reduce costs due to the synergy of the organizations resources to achieve objectives ;
  • trust and share common procedures;
  • give unequivocal responsibility to facilitate the exercise of leadership;
  • eliminate any criticality generated by unforeseen events with a standard methodology that can analyze them in advance to prevent them.

ISO 22397 covers a variety of possible partnering arrangements, both formal and informal. For example, contracts, memoranda of understanding (MoUs), mutual aid agreements, partnerships, cooperation agreements, coordination agreements, operational agreements, supply agreement, etc.

ISO 22397 will assist organizations to establish partnering arrangements through the classic  process of Plan, Develop, Implement and Review. But the original part of this standard is the  method to establish the main rules that manage the interoperability of the parties and the basic criteria that would resolve the conflicts  of responsibility or of the relation between them in unexpected situations. In reality to prevent, mitigate and handle the consequences of a destabilized event is essential the simultaneous and jointed action of several actors.

In order to effectively achieve the positive outcome of their involvement it is crucial to reach the highest degree of coordination between the actions of each partner, the unambiguous assignment of responsibility, the resolution of situations of possible conflict between different actions. For this reason the partners must join in a preliminary process specifying a set of rules to ensure the interoperability of their functions and to decide the criteria that resolve their relationship in unforeseen situations that may arise during the action, while the action is in progress on the field.

ISO 22397 may be used in many environment such as: to made a coordinated security plan of a port or a big industry, to enhance the civil protection activities in a community or region, to facilitate  the international coordination of the nations  when are called to face a big disaster.

Dr. Stefan Tangen, Convenor of the Communication Group of the ISO technical committee that developed the new standard, states:

“The world has evolved into a global community of interdependent societies. Changes in technical and economic relationships have resulted in cross-jurisdictional and trans-boundary interdependencies for vital societal functions and assets. Considering the important role of public private partnerships, ISO 22397 have a large worldwide potential”

ISO 22397:2014, Societal security – Guidelines for establishing partnering arrangements, is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 88 Swiss francs respectively through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department.