Why we celebrate World Standards Day

14 Oct 2021

The Munsell Soil Color Chart is one tool soil scientists use to describe soils in a standardised way.

Though we may not recognise it on a daily basis, standards are important for all of us. They help us work together, to measure progress, and to ensure quality and fairness.

At their heart, standards are about cooperation, which is crucial to our mission at ISRIC – World Soil Information. We serve the international community with information about the world’s soil resources to help addressing major global issues, and that information adheres to common standards so that it is widely useable.

As stated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) on World Standards Day 2021 (October 14):

"The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which project to address social imbalances, develop a sustainable economy, and slow the rate of climate change, are highly ambitious. To reach them will require the cooperation of many public and private partners, and the use of all available tools, including international standards and conformity assessment. ... The entire standards system is built on collaboration. It is testament to the power of cooperation and the belief that we are stronger than the sum of our parts." 

Coming together around standards can be inspiring because it signals a deep commitment to collaboration. At the same time, bringing world soil data and information under a common standard for our diverse global user community is a daunting task.

Soils around the world are diverse and international standards to describe them are essential, especially to create products such as international soil maps. Pictured here are five soil monoliths from five countries. Explore ISRIC's soil monolith photo collection.

With our partners, we are working towards the maintenance and development of internationally, recognised standards for handling soil data. We are proactive in working groups of the International Union of Soil Science (IUSS), GODAN (Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition), the Global Soil Partnership (GSP), the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), and member of the CoreTrustSeal (CTS) Trustworthy Data Repositories assembly of reviewers.

Are you interested in international soil data standards? Consider joining our soil information community of practice

To facilitate our user community as the World Data Centre for Soils, we maintain a webpage that is evolving towards a comprehensive catalogue of ‘international’ standards in the soil domain.