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We’ve recently discussed the rise of ISSB standards globally along with the adoption of the EU’s European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) for reporting under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). A recent article from ISS Corporate Solutions discusses the implications of the ESRS and how they fundamentally differ from the ISSB standards.

While much of the world is being drawn towards transposing ISSB standards into their national laws, the EU remains on a separate track with the ESRS and CSRD. The CSRD and ISSB standards have differences, but the most important is their differing definitions of materiality. The ISSB standards are based on traditional financial materiality, whereas the CSRD relies on the concept of double materiality.

Double materiality expands the range of issues that are material to a company and increases companies’ reporting burdens. The difference between financial and double materiality is more fully discussed in Chapter 2 of our How to Conduct an ESG Materiality Assessment Guidebook as well as in a two-part guest blog by Advisory Board member Donato Calace (see Part 1 and Part 2).

The ISS article lays out some important questions about the impacts of CSRD reporting:

Will the new disclosure rules deliver on the lofty expectations? Will they contribute to guiding and accelerating companies’ sustainability programmes – or lock valuable resource in into ever more complex reporting efforts? Is the level of harmonization achieved sufficient to offset the burden of more ambitious disclosures?

Only time will tell which of these approaches will be generally accepted as the standard. In the meantime, multinationals should be prepared to report under both. Despite the difference in standards, companies should ensure that the data they’re reporting is consistent, validated and supported across jurisdictions. New Guidebooks and Checklists will be available to members soon that reflect the recent regulatory changes.

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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