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ICAEW backs UK bid to host new global sustainability body

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 02 Sep 2021

With the new International Sustainability Standards Board’s location yet to be decided, ICAEW argues that hosting it in the UK represents the swiftest and most efficient way of accomplishing its goals

ICAEW’s Chief Executive Michael Izza has written to the IFRS Foundation to set out the ‘compelling’ reasons for the UK hosting the proposed new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB).

The establishment of the ISSB is expected to be announced by the IFRS Foundation ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), due to be held in Glasgow in October and November.

ICAEW, and the bodies represented in this letter, believe the ISSB will have a pivotal role in enabling a world of sustainable economies, but that time is of the essence. In the letter, Izza stated it was “vital” the board’s work gets underway quickly, and that it achieves traction and impact as soon as possible.

“Locating the ISSB here - alongside the IASB and building on its existing resources and relationships - makes practical sense and represents the swiftest and most efficient way of accomplishing that.”

Izza said Trustees will already be familiar with the advantages of the UK as a base for an international standard-setting body: it is the world's pre-eminent global financial centre and, as such, it offers the ISSB access to concentrations of expertise across all financial and commercial disciplines – including a growing professional ESG community - and “exceptional worldwide connections”. 

Sarah Dunn, Technical Manager for ICAEW’s Financial Reporting Faculty, added that there is “significant support and momentum” behind the IFRS Foundation’s plan to establish the ISSB and that the board will represent a key step towards the development of a truly international corporate reporting system. 

“From the start, ICAEW has urged the IFRS Foundation not to delay in taking steps to set up the new board and it is encouraging to see the excellent progress that has been made to date,” said Dunn. “The coming months will be critical to the future of international corporate reporting and ICAEW stands ready to support the IFRS Foundation in this important and urgent project.”

UK a ‘world leader’ in sustainable finance

The letter also outlined how governance standards generally in the UK are high, with its professional services firms recognised for their quality, openness, international outlook and culture of collaboration. The largest and most diverse cluster of firms across all the major financial and professional services industry sub-sectors is based in London, supported by strong regional centres of excellence across the country and a world-class academic sector.

“The UK is a world leader in sustainable finance, reinforced by the Presidency of COP26, with a well-developed ecosystem featuring international participants, high levels of specialist skill, knowledge and experience, scale and depth of capital and strong political engagement,” said Izza.

Supporting organisations and bodies

The letter was written on behalf of an extensive grouping of bodies and organisations representing key sections of the private sector and civil society. The list includes firms such as BDO, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton UK, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers UK, and organisations including The 100 Group, The City of London Corporation, TheCityUK, The Investment Association, and UN Global Compact Network UK.

ICAEW recognises that the Canadian government has also sent an invitation for the ISSB to locate their headquarters and expects other bids to surface as well.

ICAEW understands that the UK Government also welcomes the establishment of the ISSB. 

For further information and guidance on non-financial reporting see icaew.com/nfr.

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