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IFRS Foundation announces next steps for global sustainability standard

4 February 2021: Responding to growing demand for a global set of sustainability standards, IFRS Foundation Trustees have agreed several steps to take in the run-up to November’s crucial COP26 Summit.

The Trustees of the IFRS Foundation met on 1 February 2021 to review responses to the first three questions asked by their consultation paper on sustainability reporting: demand for global sustainability standards, whether the IFRS Foundation should play a role, and, if so, the requirements for success in doing so. 

The consultation received 576 comment letters from a diverse set of organisations and individuals from around the world, all of which are publicly available.

The responses indicate a growing and urgent demand to improve the global consistency and comparability in sustainability reporting, as well as strong recognition that urgent steps need to be taken and broad demand for the IFRS Foundation to play a role in this.

Given this demand, the trustees agreed to undertake further detailed analysis of feedback on the requirements for success and other conditions to be satisfied before considering whether to establish a new board.

ICAEW support

Nigel Sleigh-Johnson, Head of the Financial Reporting Faculty at ICAEW, commented: “There is a pressing need for the development of a global set of high-quality, authoritative sustainability reporting standards.

“The IFRS Foundation is in a strong position to help achieve this goal,” he continued. “Responses to the foundation’s recent consultation highlight the considerable international support and momentum behind the development of a truly international corporate reporting system. 

“The announcement provides an early and encouraging indication of its next steps towards setting up a Sustainability Standards Board.”

Sarah Dunn, technical manager for ICAEW’s Financial Reporting Faculty, added: “When responding to the IFRS Foundation’s proposals last year, we urged the foundation to set out a five-year plan, explaining what standards it expects to produce, including in what order, the matters to be covered, and its proposed timetable. 

“It’s good to note that the foundation has taken on board these ideas and plans to provide a roadmap with a timeline later this year. We’re in close contact with the foundation and will continue to monitor developments.”

Next steps

The trustees will meet next on 2-4 March 2021, and their likely goal is to produce a definitive proposal (including a road map with timeline) by the end of September 2021. 

This will possibly lead to an announcement on the establishment of a sustainability standards board at the meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in November 2021.

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