What Is International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) Reporting?

International Sustainability Standards Board

What Is International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) Reporting?

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In the last few years, international investors with global investment have been calling for transparent and reliable reporting by companies on climate change and other environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. As part of ways to address these issues, the IFRS Foundation Trustees (Trustees) recently announced three significant developments to provide the global financial markets with high-quality disclosures on climate and other sustainability issues. One of these changes includes the formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board Reporting (ISSB). This article provides a more in-depth look at this new board, their roles, mission and vision; keep reading. 

What is the role of International Sustainability Standards Board Reporting (ISSB)?

The primary role of this board is to deliver a global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards that provide investors and other capital market participants with information about companies’ sustainability-related risks and opportunities to help them make informed decisions.

The ISSB will be responsible for setting up and recommending international sustainability standards for diverse industries and sectors and managing the related certification process. It will receive input from many stakeholders, including enterprises, governments, academia and civil society.

The group will also review existing sustainability disclosures and determine how effectively they support decision-making by investors, lenders, employees and other key stakeholders. The intention is for ISSB to develop its governance structure in consultation with all stakeholders. 

International Sustainability Standards Board Reporting (ISSB) will sit alongside and work in close cooperation with the IASB, ensuring connectivity and compatibility between IFRS Accounting Standards and the ISSB’s standards—IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards.

 To ensure public interest legitimacy, both boards will be overseen by the Trustees. They are in turn accountable to a Monitoring Board of capital market authorities responsible for corporate reporting in their jurisdictions.

International Sustainability Standards Board

What is the ISSB Reporting Mission and Objectives?

The board is built to function on 4 key principles that include the following:

Comprehensive global baseline

The ISSB will develop IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards, including disclosure requirements that address companies’ impacts on sustainability matters relevant to assessing enterprise value and making investment decisions. 

The ISSB’s standards will enable companies to provide comprehensive sustainability information for the global financial markets. In addition, the standards will be developed to facilitate compatibility with jurisdiction-specific requirements or aimed at a wider group of stakeholders (for example, the European Union’s planned Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and initiatives in the Americas and Asia-Oceania).

Consolidating and building on existing initiatives

Through consistent feedback received through consultation, the ISSB will build on the work of existing investor-focused reporting initiatives to become the global standard-setter for sustainability disclosures for the financial markets. To achieve this goal, the IFRS Foundation has reached commitments with the CDSB, whose secretariat is hosted by CDP, and the VRF to consolidate their technical expertise, content, staff and other resources with the IFRS Foundation. It is intended that the technical standards and frameworks of the CDSB and the VRF, along with those of the TCFD and the Forum Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics, will provide a basis for the technical work of the new board.

Informed by International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) Reporting Expert Advice

The ISSB will draw upon expertise from several advisory groups. Technical advice on sustainability matters will be provided to the ISSB by a new Sustainability Consultative Committee, whose members will include the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and additional expert members drawn from public, private and non-governmental organisations.

Global footprint

The ISSB will have a global and multi-location presence. All regions—the Americas, Asia-Oceania and EMEA (Europe, the Middle-East and Africa)—will be covered. Engagement with developing and emerging economies will be an important priority. Offices in Frankfurt (the seat of the Board and the office of the Chair) and Montreal will be responsible for key functions supporting the new Board and deeper co-operation with regional stakeholders. The offices in San Francisco and London will also provide technical support and platforms for market engagement and deeper cooperation with regional stakeholders.

Conclusion

Currently, the trustees are at advanced stages in appointing a Chair and Vice-Chair(s) to the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). The Trustees will commence a search for the additional board positions shortly, up to the full complement of 14 members. The ISSB’s work is expected to commence as soon as the Chair and Vice-Chair(s) have been appointed and begin with public consultations to inform the ISSB’s work plan and on proposals informed by recommendations from the TRWG. 

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