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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

The rapid pace of standards issuance in ESG has been quite a rollercoaster for many professionals in the space. That ride could possibly be ending. The IFRS released its long-awaited ISSB standards at the end of June. The standards cover both General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-Related Financial Information and Climate-Related Disclosures. The ISSB standards are designed with a financial focus in mind and aims to create standardized ESG data for investors.

Greenbiz sat down with ISSB Chair Emmanuel Faber after the announcement and here are a few things Faber had to say:

  • The ISSB is designed to work alongside other reporting frameworks to avoid duplicative efforts:

“Our standards have been developed by consolidating voluntary initiatives. Among others, we have built our standards using other previously established work, including the industry-specific SASB standards (which are now a part of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, or IFRS Foundation), as well as the TCFD recommendations, so companies that have already adopted these will be in a great place to apply IFRS S1 and IFRS S2. Companies applying ISSB standards will be fully compliant with the TCFD recommendations.”

  • Comment letters changed some language from the exposure drafts, but didn’t result in any major overhauls:

“Overall, the changes we have made in response to feedback have been nuanced adjustments, rather than wholesale changes. For example, we have clarified some concepts and modified some of the language. We also decided to use the exact same definition of ‘materiality’ as in IFRS accounting standards to facilitate connections between accounting and sustainability disclosures.”

  • The next step for the ISSB is the integration of their standards into jurisdictional reporting requirements:

“A critical next step will be the endorsement that the International Organization of Securities Commission (IOSCO) mentioned they are working on. With an IOSCO membership of over 170 countries’ market regulators, this will open for us the opportunity to engage with countries in a bilateral and multilateral way. On our side, we are finalizing the digital taxonomy of our standards, which will be critical to ensure cost effectiveness and interoperability. We are also going to support market participants and jurisdictions in their adoption of the standards. As announced at COP27 last year, we are designing and will deliver capacity building programmes in partnership with other organizations aimed to help address adoption and implementation issues across the world.”

What this Means

Standards like the ISSB are finding their footing and different frameworks are beginning to focus in on specific data needs. The ISSB standards represent a huge movement in the investment world towards standardized data and makeup one part of the larger disclosure puzzle. Voluntary standards are getting the attention of regulators who are integrating their concepts and methodologies into law. The proliferation of standards has long been a complaint about the ESG world – perhaps ISSB’s efforts will be the beginning of meaningful consolidation.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile