IFRS Foundation sets out priorities for sustainability standard setter

There is an urgent need for a set of global sustainability reporting standards board backed by the IFRS Foundation trustees to raise corporate reporting transparency on climate issues

The global IFRS Foundation Trustees have announced strategic direction and further steps based on feedback to their sustainability reporting consultation based on feedback to the 2020 consultation.

Feedback to the 2020 consultation confirmed an urgent need for global sustainability reporting standards and support for the Foundation to play a role in their development.

The Trustees are therefore continuing their work on the establishment of an international sustainability reporting standards board within the existing governance structure of the IFRS Foundation, as set out in the Trustees’ February announcement.

The IOSCO Board has also announced that it plans to work with the IFRS Foundation in developing a plan to establish a new board for setting sustainability reporting standards that meet the needs of the capital markets.

This will include consideration of future endorsement of the new board and its standards.

The Trustees recognise the importance for the public interest of reporting standards that address enterprise value, which captures expected value creation for investors in the short, medium and long term, and is interdependent with value creation for society and the environment.

Based on the feedback to the 2020 consultation, and supported by the IOSCO board statement, the Trustees have reached the following views about the strategic direction of a new board:

Investor focus for enterprise value: the new board would focus on information that is material to the decisions of investors, lenders and other creditors.

Sustainability scope, prioritising climate: due to the urgent need for better information about climate-related matters, the new board would initially focus its efforts on climate-related reporting, while also working towards meeting the information needs of investors on other ESG (environmental, social and governance) matters.

Build on existing frameworks: the new board would build upon the well-established work of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), as well as work by the alliance of leading standard-setters in sustainability reporting focused on enterprise value. The Trustees will consider the prototype proposed by the alliance for an approach to climate-related disclosures as a potential basis for the new board to develop climate-related reporting standards. To prepare for this work, the IFRS Foundation will initiate a process of structured engagement with the relevant organisations.

Building blocks approach: by working with standard-setters from key jurisdictions, standards issued by the new board would provide a globally consistent and comparable sustainability reporting baseline, while also providing flexibility for coordination on reporting requirements that capture wider sustainability impacts.

The Trustees intend to publish a feedback statement that summarises the responses received to their 2020 consultation, and how that feedback informed the above decisions.

Together with the feedback statement, the Trustees will publish for public comment the proposed changes to the Foundation’s constitution necessary to formalise establishment of a new board, including its composition. The Trustees will continue to engage with the IFRS Foundation Monitoring Board and be informed of their views to proposed changes. Any changes to the constitution are subject to a public consultation with a 90-day comment period.

The Trustees remain on track to make a final decision about a new board in advance of the November 2021 United Nations COP26 conference, including the detailed analysis of feedback on the requirements for attaining the objectives outlined in the 2020 consultation and other conditions to be satisfied.

Sara White |Editor, Accountancy Daily, published by Croner-i

Sara White is editor of Accountancy Daily, published by Croner-i, and in...

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