What is the International Sustainability Standards Board?

International Sustainability Standards Board - meeting

Reporting remains a big obstacle for businesses navigating the sustainability landscape. The main challenge here is we lack a worldwide baseline for what businesses must report. Businesses can decide for themselves what to share and can frame corporate sustainability reporting to their advantage.

Unfortunately, this only makes way for unethical practices like greenwashing where the full picture is not portrayed correctly. The good news is that progress is happening to improve this situation. The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) published its Sustainability Disclosure Standards in March 2022. Continue reading to learn more about the ISSB and its disclosure standards. 

About the International Sustainability Standards Board 

The formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) was announced at COP26 in Glasgow on the 3rd of November, 2021. The ISSB was created by the IFRS Foundation, an independent private sector body, and is developing standards that will result in a comprehensive, high-quality worldwide baseline of sustainability disclosures focused on the needs of both financial markets and investors. 

As mentioned, the formation of the ISSB was in much demand and this is largely due to how sustainability factors are becoming mainstream in investment decision-making. Companies are increasingly being asked to offer high-quality, globally comparable information on sustainability-related opportunities and risks. 

In addition, there is a strong desire to address a fragmented ESG disclosure landscape and the landscape of voluntary, sustainability-related requirements and standards that add risk, complexity, and cost to investors and organisations. The ISSB has received international support, being backed by the G20, the G7, the Financial Stability Board, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), African Finance Ministers, and Central Bank Governors across over 40 jurisdictions. 

The primary goals of the ISSB are to create guidelines for a global baseline of sustainability disclosures to satisfy investor information needs. This will allow companies to offer comprehensive sustainability information to worldwide capitals, as well as facilitate interoperability with disclosures, which are aimed at broader stakeholder groups and are jurisdiction-specific. 

The ISSB is building out on the work of the current market-led investor-focused initiatives. Some of these include the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), and the World Economic Forum’s Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics, among others. 

What are their reporting standards? 

Since the announcement, some progress has taken place with the ISSB, including two standard prototypes. The IFRS S1 General Standards for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information are among them. This standard requires businesses to disclose information regarding any meaningful sustainability-related opportunities and risks which could be weighed by primary users of general-purpose financial reporting. 

Doing so could help people better assess enterprise exposure to sustainability risks and determine investment opportunities. Secondly is the IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures, which focuses on certain requirements for the measurement, identification, and disclosure of climate-related financial information. 

At this point, every jurisdiction must choose for itself whether to adopt these disclosure standards. It is still too early to predict which jurisdiction will embrace the new standards, according to the IFRS. However, they have already received a lot of global support, so we can expect these standards to become both widely adopted and mandatory. 

Summary

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has published its reporting standards which are a set of standards created to meet the urgent need for a comprehensive worldwide baseline of corporate sustainability reporting. Currently, there are two standard drafts that focus on climate and sustainability-related financial disclosures. However, more standards are yet to be issued in the future and these will look at additional industries and themes to assist organisations with collecting, managing, and reporting all of their sustainability information.

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