Voices raised for alignment on ESG
As global, EU and US consultations on sustainability reporting drew to a close over recent weeks (as discussed here), we have seen a concerted push for collaboration and convergence from a huge range of organisations.
“Clear, comprehensive and comparable disclosure of sustainability-related information is one of the foundational building blocks of a well-functioning global financial system. Financial market regulators should seize this historical and fast-closing window of opportunity to get it right by ensuring compatible standards,” argues a statement developed by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Signed by 65 companies, investors and accounting firms, it emphasises the need for a global baseline and for interoperability between standards. Echoing this theme, two statements published by Accounting for Sustainability, from Chief Financial Officers and institutional investors, offer suggestions on the global IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards from the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) – first and foremost calling for alignment with existing and emerging standards.
From the European perspective, Accountancy Europe has published its consultation response to the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) on the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRSs). Once again, it places global alignment in pole position, stating that relevant bodies should “focus on aligning their standards to facilitate comparability and analysis, improve transparency and minimise reporting burden.” It also argues for clarification and simplification of the standards, with an initial focus on a few critical indicators.
The responses from EU bodies are also worthy of note. Alongside a number of more technical remarks on the ESRSs, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) strongly encourages EFRAG to continue its efforts to build convergence with international initiatives, focussing on alignment with the coming IFRS Sustainability Standards and the GRI standards frequently used in Europe. It particularly notes the need for convergence in terminology and definitions. The European Banking Authority (EBA), responding to both EFRAG and the ISSB, urges close cooperation between the two organisations as they finalise their standards to ensure consistency and meet the growing demand for relevant, reliable and comparable corporate data.