The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has become a driving force in setting sustainability standards globally. Comprised of a diverse group of experts from around the world, the ISSB has played a vital role in laying the foundations for a more sustainable future.
Our article aims to shed light on the evolution of the ISSB, how organisations can adopt and implement its sustainability standards and what this means for the future.
In addition, we will examine the relationship between ISSB and other key organisations such as EFRAG and GRI, as well as the importance of ESG standards in investment and organisational sustainability.
Follow us on this journey to better understand how ISSB is transforming sustainability standards around the world and how your organisation can be part of this change.
What is the ISSB (International Sustainability Standards Board)?
The ISSB, or International Sustainability Standards Board, is a recent but essential body in the world of finance and sustainability.
Its main objective is to create and promote global standards for sustainability reporting, ensuring transparency and consistency in the way organisations communicate their impact and contribution to sustainability.
The Creation and Evolution of the ISSB
The ISSB has not always been an integral part of the sustainability landscape. It was created by the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS Foundation) in response to growing demand from investors and other stakeholders for greater transparency and accountability in sustainability.
The idea of a global body to standardise sustainability reporting began to take shape in the early 2020s. However, the ISSB as we know it today was officially established in 2022, under the leadership of the IFRS Foundation.
Since then, the ISSB has steadily evolved and grown, gaining global recognition and acceptance for its work in standardising sustainability practices. It has played a key role in the investment arena, where the ISSB’s ESG standards have provided a robust framework for assessing the sustainability performance of companies.
With a focus on “double materiality“, which considers both the impacts of the organisation on society and the environment, and the effects of sustainability issues on the organisation, it has managed to secure its position as a respected and trusted entity in the world of sustainability.
What are the ISSB Standards? – A Closer Look
On 26 June 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) published its first sustainability-related disclosure standards, known as IFRS S1 and IFRS S2. The body expects these standards to become the global basis for sustainability-related disclosures.
The Standards will apply to corporate entities that are required or choose to prepare general purpose financial statements and are based on existing market standards, such as those issued by the Task Force for Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).
IFRS S1, General Requirements for Financial Disclosures Related to Sustainability, refers to the disclosure of all risks and opportunities related to sustainability.
This standard requires disclosure of information on the governance processes, strategies, and monitoring and evaluation activities in place to manage and oversee these risks and opportunities. In addition, it requires information on the entity’s performance in terms of sustainability metrics, and specifically the progress that has been made towards meeting any legal or regulatory targets related to sustainability.
IFRS S2, Climate-related disclosures, requires entities to disclose information about their climate-related risks and opportunities and the governance processes, strategies and monitoring and evaluation activities in place to manage and oversee them.
The information will relate to both physical climate-related risks, such as extreme weather events, and transitional risks, such as the impact of increased regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. IFRS S2 also provides guidance on how entities should take into account the impact of climate-related factors in their own measurement.
Together, these Standards are designed to provide a comprehensive and consistent assessment of an entity’s current and future sustainability and climate-related risks and opportunities across its entire value chain. This will enable market participants to make fully informed investment decisions.
The Standards will be effective for annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2024, however, it will be up to each country and industry to decide whether the application of IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 will be mandatory.
More generally, the ISSB is committed to aligning with sustainability reporting initiatives in other jurisdictions and has established the “Transition Implementation Group” to promote the implementation of the Standards and to enhance compatibility between IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 and other sustainability-based reporting standards.
The ISSB’s objective is to achieve globally recognised standards to provide clarity to investors so that they can make informed investment decisions.
How to Apply the ISSB Standards in Your Organisation
The ISSB sustainability standards are not only applicable to large multinational corporations.
Any organisation that wants to improve its sustainability performance and provide greater transparency to its stakeholders can benefit from the application of these standards.
Implementing sustainability standards can seem a daunting task, but with the right approach and commitment from all parts of the organisation, it can become a valuable opportunity to improve transparency and sustainability.
Here are the key steps for implementing the ISSB standards in your organisation.
Step 1: Understand the Standards
The first step in implementing the ISSB’s sustainability standards is to understand them thoroughly.
The standards, available on its website, provide detailed guidance on what information should be provided and how to submit it.
It is important to take the time to read and understand these standards before starting implementation.
Step 2: Conduct an Assessment of the Current Situation
Before you can start reporting according to ISSB standards, it is important to understand where your organisation stands in terms of sustainability.
This involves conducting a detailed assessment of current operations, identifying areas where your organisation is already taking steps to improve sustainability and areas where there is room for improvement.
Step 3: Collect Necessary Information
Once you understand the standards and have a clear picture of the current situation of the organisation, the next step is to collect the information required by the standards.
This process may require collaboration from various parts of your organisation, from finance to operations, and may involve both the collection of new data and the reassembly of existing data.
Step 4: Prepare and Present the Information
Once the information has been collected, it is time to prepare and present it in accordance with ISSB standards.
New reports will need to be created or existing reports will need to be adapted to ensure that they comply with the ISSB’s requirements.
Information should be clear, transparent and easy to understand for stakeholders.
Step 5: Review and Continuous Improvement
When implementing the ISSB standards, it is important to regularly review and update the information provided to ensure that it remains accurate and relevant.
This also provides the opportunity to identify and address areas for improvement, contributing to greater sustainability over time.
Step 6: Keeping up to date
As a constantly evolving body, the ISSB can review and update its standards to reflect changes in the sustainability landscape.
Keeping abreast of these updates will ensure that your organisation remains compliant with the latest standards.
ISSB and double Materiality: A New Perspective on Sustainability
The International Sustainability Standards Council has embraced the concept of double materiality, a novel and more comprehensive perspective that links environmental sustainability with financial relevance.
double materiality proposes that sustainability factors are of a double nature: on the one hand, they have a direct impact on the planet and society, and on the other hand, they are relevant to the valuation and financial performance of a company.
In other words, it is not only about how an organisation affects the environment and society, but also about how sustainability issues can affect the organisation itself.
The ISSB, through its sustainability standards, seeks to ensure that companies report on these two aspects of sustainability in a balanced way.
This means that companies must consider and disclose not only the impact they have on the environment and society, but also how sustainability challenges and opportunities can affect their own financial viability and growth.
This double materiality approach allows for a more comprehensive and realistic view of sustainability, recognising that sustainability factors are intrinsically connected to financial performance.
By adopting this approach, companies can identify risks and opportunities, improve their sustainability management and ultimately drive more sustainable financial growth.
EFRAG and ISSB: Understanding the Relationship
The Foundation for Financial Reporting and Accounting in Europe (EFRAG) and the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) have a relationship of cooperation and understanding in pursuit of common goals.
Both organisations are working to improve the transparency and integrity of financial and sustainability reporting.
EFRAG, with its wide reach and reputation in Europe, advises the European Commission on accounting issues and promotes the implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Europe.
With the establishment of the ISSB by the IFRS Foundation, there is an opportunity for EFRAG to collaborate with the ISSB in promoting sustainability standards.
This working relationship is vital to achieve a globally consistent financial and sustainability reporting system.
The combined efforts of EFRAG and ISSB can help organisations to provide more transparent, consistent and useful reporting to investors and other stakeholders.
GRI and ISSB: A Comparative Analysis
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) are two key players in the sustainability landscape.
Although they have similar objectives of promoting transparency and accountability in sustainability, there are significant differences in their approaches and methodologies.
The GRI, an organisation with decades of experience, focuses on providing sustainability reporting standards covering a wide range of economic, environmental and social topics. Its standards are voluntarily adopted by companies and provide detailed guidance for sustainability reporting.
On the other hand, the ISSB is a newer organisation and has a narrower focus, focusing on sustainability issues that are more relevant to investors and other stakeholders in the capital markets. Its double materiality approach emphasises both the impacts of the company on the environment and society and the impacts of sustainability issues on the company.
Both GRI and ISSB play a crucial role in advancing sustainability reporting. Although they use different approaches, their common goal is to improve the quality and transparency of sustainability information provided by companies.
The ISSB, with its innovative Sustainability Standards, is changing the way companies and investors understand and deal with sustainability.
Since its inception, it has worked to provide a globally consistent framework to enable companies to effectively report on their sustainability impacts, helping investors and other stakeholders to make informed decisions.
Adopting and implementing ISSB standards can be a challenging process for companies. However, with a clear understanding of the standards and their double materiality, companies can navigate this new sustainability landscape and take advantage of the opportunities it offers.
Meeting this challenge with the right tools can make the task much easier. That is why at APLANET we have developed software that will help you to collect, manage and analyse your sustainability data efficiently, facilitating the creation of high quality reports that meet the expectations of your stakeholders.
If you want to know more, you can talk to a specialist here.
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