By Aletta Boshoff, Partner; National Leader – IFRS, Corporate Reporting & Sustainability, BDO
In today’s business climate, environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are increasingly important as organisations face mounting pressure to demonstrate greater commitment to values that reflect the contemporary demands of people and the planet.
Sustainability and transparency are increasingly associated with successful financial performance and value creation and have long-term investor appeal.
For those companies choosing to report on ESG performance, a significant first step is to determine the appropriate reporting framework. In the absence of a unified global ESG reporting standard, current requirements and guidelines can be confusing and their respective differences unclear.
This fragmentation has led to calls by many entities worldwide for the formation of a ‘standard setter’ to build on the work done by previous organisations and issue a single set of globally consistent sustainability standards as a ‘global baseline’.
The culmination of this was the formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) in November 2021, which has started issuing Sustainability Disclosure Standards. To date, two prototype standards have been published: one on climate and the other on general disclosure requirements.
While certain jurisdictions will develop their own sustainability reporting standards, many will partially converge with the ISSB Disclosure Standards. Building on what has already been done by other standard setters, the ISSB will consolidate, merge with or incorporate existing frameworks, including:
The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB)
The Value Reporting Foundation (VRF) – which houses the Integrated Reporting Framework and SASB standards
The Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFDs).
While more and more entities are providing ESG disclosures – both quantitatively and qualitatively – very few are fully integrated with published financial statements. If the ISSB Disclosure Standards start to develop stronger currency in Australian corporate reporting, we anticipate the growing convergence between financial reporting under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) financial disclosure standards and ESG reporting under IFRS sustainability disclosure standards.
For more information or assistance preparing your ESG report contact Aletta Boshoff or Ashley Bleeker at BDO, who will also be running a series of ESG: Opportunities & risks for boards webinars on behalf of Women on Boards. This new six-week workshop series, which starts on 18 March, will discuss the basics of ESG and what you should know to fulfil your duties as a director.
Find out more about the ESG: Opportunities & Risks for Boards program HERE