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Consultation opens on global sustainability assurance standard

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 03 Aug 2023

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) is calling on anyone involved with preparing, using and regulating sustainability reports to feedback on its proposed International Standard on Sustainability Assurance – ISSA 5000.

ISAA 5000 - General Requirements for Sustainability Assurance Engagements is set to be the most comprehensive sustainability assurance standard globally yet, distinguishing the assurance of sustainability information from the more general International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000.

Launching its consultation on the standard, IAASB Vice Chair, Josephine Jackson described ISSA 5000 as a “global baseline for sustainability assurance”.

“ISAA 5000 will be adaptable to information provided by any size entity, under any suitable sustainability reporting framework,” she confirmed. “It will be available to all assurance practitioners from any profession who meet relevant ethical and quality management requirements.”

This standard will apply to all reported sustainability information, whether related to the impact of sustainability matters on an entity, or an entity’s impact on sustainability, and can be used for both limited and reasonable assurance engagements.

Responding to the publication of the draft standard, ICAEW’s Director, Audit & Corporate Reporting, Dr Nigel Sleigh-Johnson, said: “We’re pleased to see publication of this draft standalone global standard on sustainability assurance, which represents a much-needed element of the global institutional framework required to underpin high-quality and consistent sustainability reporting by companies around the world.”

ICAEW has applauded IAASB on the rapid development of the draft standard, producing this exposure draft at a previously unseen pace and called for the broader assurance community to continue the momentum.

Alex Russell, Head of Audit & Assurance strategy in ICAEW’s Audit & Assurance Faculty said: “We encourage all interested stakeholders to engage with the consultation process in the coming months. We look forward to wide application of the final standard in the sustainability assurance market, with all sustainability assurance providers held to the same high bar of regulatory oversight, transparency, independence, ethics and quality management.

Dr Sleigh-Johnson added: “The IAASB has responded to the need for urgent action to address  climate collapse, the loss of nature and biodiversity, and growing inequalities; all stakeholders, including regulators and political leadership, must now reciprocate by assessing and implementing these proposals as a priority.”

In developing ISSA 500, the IAASB has been in close consultation with other global organisations, including the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, the Global Reporting Initiative and the International Sustainability Standards Board, which published its first two global sustainability disclosure standards in June.

The consultation on ISSA 5000 will run until 1 December 2023. ICAEW will be responding to the exposure draft, if you would like to contribute to that response, please contact Alex Russell

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