The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) Releases First Two Standards to Drive Sustainable Financial Disclosures

In a significant step towards enhancing sustainability reporting, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) made its debut at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The ISSB, established with the goal of providing a global framework for sustainability-related financial disclosures, has recently published its first two finalized standards: S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information and S2 Climate-related Disclosures. These standards aim to meet the long-standing demand from investors and financial markets for consistent and reliable sustainability information.

Building on Existing Sustainability Disclosure Standards

Rather than reinventing the wheel, the ISSB has taken an inclusive approach by building upon existing sustainability disclosure standards. The ISSB standards draw from the expertise and experience of organizations such as the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the Value Reporting Foundation’s Integrated Reporting Framework, and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). By incorporating the best practices and guidance from these established entities, the ISSB standards can capitalize on the progress made in the field of sustainability reporting.

S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information

The S1 standard serves as a fundamental framework for disclosing sustainability-related financial information. It outlines the core requirements and principles that companies should follow when reporting on their sustainability performance and impacts. The standard emphasizes the need for transparency, consistency, comparability, and relevance of information to ensure meaningful decision-making by investors and stakeholders. It covers a wide range of areas, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, and encourages companies to adopt a holistic approach to sustainability reporting.

S2 Climate-related Disclosures

Recognizing the urgency of addressing climate change, the ISSB has developed the S2 standard specifically focused on climate-related disclosures. This standard aligns with the recommendations of the TCFD and provides a comprehensive framework for reporting on climate-related risks and opportunities. Companies will be required to disclose information about their climate strategy, risk management, and the financial impacts of climate change on their business. The S2 standard aims to enhance the understanding of climate-related risks across different sectors and enable investors to make informed decisions based on reliable and comparable data.

Benefits of the ISSB Standards

The ISSB standards offer several key benefits for investors, companies, and other stakeholders involved in sustainability reporting:

  1. Enhanced Investor Confidence: By establishing a globally recognized baseline for sustainability disclosures, the ISSB standards provide investors with greater confidence in the accuracy, reliability, and comparability of sustainability information. This helps investors make informed decisions that consider both financial and non-financial aspects of companies’ performance.
  2. Improved Risk Assessment: The ISSB standards, particularly the S2 climate-related disclosures, enable companies to better assess and disclose the risks associated with climate change. This enhances the ability of investors and stakeholders to understand and evaluate the potential financial impacts of climate-related risks on companies’ long-term sustainability and viability.
  3. Consistency and Comparability: The ISSB standards strive to harmonize sustainability reporting practices globally. By aligning with existing frameworks, they contribute to the creation of a consistent and comparable dataset across companies and sectors. This facilitates benchmarking, trend analysis, and the identification of best practices, ultimately driving more effective decision-making.
  4. Holistic Reporting Approach: The ISSB standards encourage companies to adopt a holistic approach to sustainability reporting, considering ESG factors alongside financial performance. This comprehensive perspective allows investors to gain a deeper understanding of a company’s sustainability performance and its alignment with long-term value creation.

The launch of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and the publication of its first two standards, S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of

Sustainability-related Financial Information and S2 Climate-related Disclosures, mark a significant milestone in the field of sustainability reporting. By leveraging existing standards and frameworks, the ISSB aims to establish a global baseline for sustainability disclosures that meets the needs of investors and the financial markets. These standards provide a foundation for transparent, consistent, and comparable reporting, facilitating better decision-making, risk assessment, and sustainable investment practices. With the ISSB at the helm, the journey towards a more sustainable and resilient global economy takes a leap forward.

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