Sunday, April 14, 2024

ISSB to inaugurate new jurisdictional guide for sustainability financial disclosures

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The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) is poised to unveil its inaugural Jurisdictional Guide by mid-year, signaling a significant stride towards global harmonization in sustainability financial disclosures. This initiative aims to promote uniform adoption and application of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) S1 and S2, focusing on general sustainability and climate-related disclosures, respectively. 

Recognizing the fragmented landscape of sustainability reporting standards as a source of increased costs, complexity, and risk for entities and investors, the ISSB’s endeavor has been met with acclaim from industry leaders. Eric Pan, President, and CEO of the Investment Company Institute, commended the ISSB’s patient and flexible approach, emphasizing the potential of standardized reporting to enhance global interoperability and investor confidence through improved comparability of information. 

Read also: Comparing considerations for GHG emissions using GRI and ISSB standards

The forthcoming guide is tailored to assist jurisdictions in navigating the implementation of ISSB standards, considering the unique challenges and costs entities may encounter based on their preparedness and circumstances. It introduces proportionality mechanisms and transition reliefs for certain disclosure requirements, effective from the initial reporting period commencing January 1 of the current year. Moreover, it recognizes the imperative for jurisdictions to adapt existing legislations or regulations to effectively embrace or utilize the ISSB Standards. 

While ISSB Standards provide a foundational framework, the importance of tailoring reporting requirements to local contexts has been emphasized by international law firm Allen & Overy. However, it posits that convergence is attainable with increased recognition of the benefits of optimizing interoperability and aligning closely with international standards. 

The development of the guide has been informed by extensive global consultations, including open dialogues in China, Australia, Nigeria, and Malaysia, aimed at fostering stakeholder engagement and awareness in the sustainability reporting discourse. Jay Eisenhardt, Senior Sustainable Investing Product Manager at Northern Trust Asset Management, highlights the significant momentum in sustainability reporting adoption, with 14 countries at various stages in the adoption process, representing 18% of the global large-cap universe. This underscores a pivotal juncture in sustainability reporting, with a substantial portion of the global market cap represented by countries moving towards standardization. 

In essence, the ISSB’s impending Jurisdictional Guide represents a pivotal stride towards mitigating the global fragmentation of sustainability reporting, envisioning a future where financial disclosures are consistently and comparably reported across jurisdictions. As the financial community eagerly awaits the guide’s finalization, anticipation grows for a future where sustainability reporting not only adheres to global standards but also effectively addresses local nuances, fostering greater transparency and accountability in the financial landscape. 

 

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungaihttp://www.edwardmungai.com/
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via mailto:edward@edwardmungai.com

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