Standard Setting

SASB Standards identify sustainability disclosure topics that are reasonably likely to significantly impact the financial condition, operating performance, or risk profile of the typical company in each of 77 industries. Therefore, SASB Standards are a useful tool to guide company disclosure of sustainability information that a company has determined to be material to its business. Although different disclosure frameworks and standards have adopted a range of definitions of “materiality” focused on different users and objectives, SASB Standards are designed to facilitate the disclosure of the subset of sustainability information most likely to be considered by investors in their assessments of enterprise value. SASB Standards are designed to be used in communication to investors and other providers of financial capital.

Oversight of the SASB Standards has transitioned from the SASB Standards Board to the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) of the IFRS Foundation. To stay informed about the work of the ISSB and receive notifications of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards exposure drafts open for public comment, visit the IFRS Foundation's notifications dashboard.

Oversight of the SASB Standards has transitioned from the SASB Standards Board to the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) of the IFRS Foundation. The IFRS Foundation transparently provides stakeholders with a view into the ISSB’s agenda, activities, deliberations, decisions, active projects and other standards-related updates. Visit the IFRS Foundation notifications dashboard to stay informed about the work of the ISSB.

The approach to governance in the SASB Standards differs from a more traditional assessment of board structures, processes and shareholder rights. Because many of these traditional governance topics are addressed by existing regulation—including stock exchange listing requirements and industry-based or jurisdictional principles and codes—SASB Standards instead include industry-based performance metrics likely to serve as indicators of governance quality, such as fines and settlements, violations, accidents, etc. In this regard, SASB Standards recognize that while corporate governance drives value across every sector, each industry also has its own unique governance profile. For example, the governance issues most likely to be considered in investors’ assessments of enterprise value might involve systemic risks (as in the Financials sector), or operations in highly regulated markets (as in the Infrastructure sector) SASB Standards metrics for these and other issues are intended to complement—not replace—existing, well-established frameworks for reporting on traditional governance issues, such as those developed by the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) and the Investor Stewardship Group.

Standards Content

SASB Standards technical staff recognize that there is broad support in global capital markets for all companies—regardless of their industry—to disclose their Scope 1, Scope 2, and (where feasible) Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The approach to climate-related disclosure in the SASB Standards is different but not in conflict with such cross-industry reporting.

The process for setting SASB Standards was designed to elicit the metrics that are most useful to companies and investors in understanding and managing the direct risks and opportunities presented by climate change and other sustainability issues. This process has identified a Scope 1 GHG emissions metric in the 22 industries that involve significant direct emissions—because these are the industries likely to face material financial impacts specifically related to their emissions. These impacts may manifest as regulatory risks and shifts in consumer demand, which in turn affect costs and revenues.

For indirect emissions, SASB Standards capture the operational and/or strategic factors that give rise to such emissions. For the 35 industries that indirectly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions through significant use of purchased electricity (i.e., Scope 2), SASB Standards recommend metrics related to understanding the amount, type (conventional or renewable), and source (self-generated or purchased) of energy. Research and consultation have demonstrated that these measures highlight the direct risk-management levers available to a company—and measure how the company is using them—and therefore provide actionable data to management and decision-useful information to investors.

For industries that indirectly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions upstream (e.g., from purchased materials processing and transportation), downstream (e.g., from distribution and use of products), or in other ways (e.g., from employee commuting and business travel)—in other words, Scope 3 emissions—SASB Standards recommend metrics directly related to performance in those areas, where they are financially material.

For more information on the approach to GHG emissions and related topics in the SASB Standards, see the SASB Implementation Supplement: Greenhouse Gas Emissions and SASB Standards and the SASB Climate Risk Technical Bulletin.

Human capital issues are well-represented throughout the 77 SASB industry standards, as detailed in the SASB Human Capital Bulletin. However, many issues are rapidly evolving and both companies and investors are increasingly attuned to their financial implications. As a result, investor expectations for human capital disclosure are rising. With this in mind, SASB Standards research staff undertook the Human Capital research project with the objective of evolving the content of the Standards in light of emerging trends.

As part of this project, Staff developed an evidence-based framework to support the identification of financially material impacts related to human capital management. This framework would enable the assessment of key themes within and across industries to form the basis of recommendations regarding possible modifications to industry Standards to incorporate new elements associated with human capital.

In December of 2021, the SASB Standards Board approved a new standard-setting project evaluating whether and how to address the themes of diversity, equity and inclusion in 45 industries. More information on that project can be found on the DEI project page.

These projects were transitioned to the ISSB upon consolidation of the Value Reporting Foundation into the IFRS Foundation in August 2022. Upcoming consultation on the ISSB's future agenda priorities will inform the delivery plan for these projects.

Water and wastewater management is one of the more prevalent issues addressed in SASB Standards, appearing in 25 of 77 industries. However, in many cases, the issue can have diversified impacts on operating risk and financial performance from one industry to the next, and these differences are considered in standard-setting.

Water risk impacts are physical in nature, such as those driven by limited natural water availability, competition for water resources and watershed pollution. SASB Standards consider two high-level categories of physical water risk: access to water and water quality. Additionally, SASB Standards consider how the regulatory environment can affect physical water risks and a company’s ability to manage those risks.

SASB Standards use the following terms to describe performance metrics:

  • "Industry-based" metrics are those that are tailored to a particular industry context.
  • “Industry-agnostic” metrics are those that can be used to measure performance on a topic in a range of different industry contexts.
  • “Cross-industry” metrics are applied consistently across all industries.

Because SASB Standards are designed to identify and standardize disclosure for the sustainability issues most relevant to the creation of enterprise value in each of 77 industry verticals, SASB Standards are industry-based and primarily contain industry-based metrics. However, many risks and opportunities cut across industries and sectors and those issues in many cases can be measured consistently across different business models (i.e., using "industry-agnostic" metrics). For example, SASB disclosure topics related to energy management (35 industries), employee health and safety (26 industries) and water management (25 industries) use identical or near-identical metrics in most relevant industry contexts.

SASB Standards do not currently contain "cross-industry" quantitative metrics, although demand has increased for certain metrics—such as those related to human capital management and climate change—to be more consistently applied across all industries, and these metrics are the subject of ongoing research. For qualitative disclosure, SASB Standards Application Guidance recommends that all companies disclose information about their governance, strategy and risk management for all SASB disclosure topics.

No. The scope of monetary losses included in the disclosure shall include only the losses that were accrued (i.e., on the statement of profit or loss) during the reporting period, which might differ from the amount paid in that period. The entity shall report the net amount of any loss or gain, including amounts reported in a prior period that are reversed during the current reporting period.

Although reporting companies may face different thresholds for recognition (i.e., “probable”) depending on whether they are reporting under US GAAP or IFRS standards, SASB Standards Application Guidance recommends that, when providing disclosure in accordance with SASB Standards, companies do so in a way that is consistent with their standardized financial reporting.

All losses accrued during the current reporting period shall be included in the scope of disclosure.

Using SASB Standards

A good place to start is reviewing the SASB Standard(s) for your industry (or industries), the SASB Standards Application Guidance and the SASB Standards Implementation Primer. Additionally, a number of case studies and Q&As with reporting companies may provide useful insights on getting started. Finally, it may be valuable to review the disclosures of other SASB Standards reporters in your industry.

For an entity that operates in multiple industries, more than one industry Standard may be required to address the full array of sustainability topics reasonably likely to impact the entity’s ability to create enterprise value. One company that operates across eight SICS industries shared its approach in the SASB Standards 201 implementation webinar. Please consult the SASB Standards Application Guidance and "Understanding SASB Standards" within the SASB Standards Implementation Primer for further information.

Not necessarily. Companies may opt to use SASB Standards to disclose information through a variety of channels used to communicate with investors, including annual reports to shareholders, integrated reports, sustainability reports, stand-alone reports, investor relations websites and regulatory filings. The best choice will depend on the company’s circumstances and the laws and regulations that govern the company’s disclosures. For more information, see “Deciding Where to Disclose” within the SASB Standards Implementation Primer. For examples of how companies use SASB Standards in a variety of reporting channels, see Companies Reporting with SASB Standards.

A company determines for itself which SASB Standards are relevant to it, which disclosure topics represent significant risks and/or opportunities, and which associated metrics to report. When a company determines that a sustainability topic is relevant to its business objectives, SASB Standards offer a way to standardize disclosure on that topic, for the benefit of both companies and investors.

For more information on determining which disclosure topics and associated metrics to disclose, see the “Determine Which Disclosure Topics are Applicable” subsection within the SASB Standards Implementation Primer. Informed by extensive investor feedback, SASB Standards Application Guidance recommends that when a company omits or modifies a SASB metric, it should disclose its rationale for doing so.

SASB Standards are designed to address sustainability factors that are applicable to the typical company within an industry. In some cases they may:

  • Include topics that, for certain companies, may not represent a significant risk or opportunity; and/or
  • Not necessarily include every sustainability factor that is relevant to a reporting company.

The SASB Standards Application Guidance recommends that a company disclose its rationale when it omits or modifies a SASB metric.

When choosing to include additional topics in its disclosure, a company should consider providing a narrative describing why the topic is important and reviewing other SASB industry standards in which the topic is covered to ensure performance metrics are well-aligned with those commonly in use.

For more information, see the “Understanding SASB Standards” section of the SASB Standards Implementation Primer.

No. Companies are responsible for determining which SASB disclosure topics represent significant risks or opportunities for their business and which associated metrics warrant disclosure, taking the company’s business model, business strategy and relevant legal requirements into account. A company can make a disclosure using the SASB Standards and, in doing so, state that it has not concluded that the information is financially material.

Licensing SASB Standards

IP available for licensing includes:

  • The SASB Standards (and Materiality Map™) at different levels of granularity to best suit your organization's needs
  • Mappings to third-party frameworks and data providers such as the Sustainable Development Goals and third-party raters and rankers such as (MSCI, Sustainalytics, and others)
  • A database of 90,000+ public entity ISINs mapped to their respective industry within the SASB Standards Sustainable Industry Classification System® (SICS®)
  • SASB Standards disclosure topics and the corresponding channels of financial impact
  • SASB Standards disclosure topics and the corresponding climate risks from the TCFD and the SASB Climate Risk Technical Bulletin
  • SASB Standards corporate engagement questions for all 77 SICS® industries
  • SASB Standards disclosure topics and the corresponding industry working group (IWG) materiality ratings

To learn more, please see the Licensing Use section of sasb.org. For answers to additional licensing questions, see How to License SASB Standards.

Yes, the SASB Standards Materiality Map™, which is a high-level visualization of the more detailed Standards, can be accessed through a formal licensing agreement. If you would like access to this file and the rights to use the contents of the Map in your commercial activities, please email sustainability_licensing@ifrs.org to get started.

For answers to additional licensing questions, see How to License SASB Standards.

Commercial use of SASB Standards and related IP is permissible when a licensing agreement is in place with the IFRS Foundation. Commercial use of SASP Standards IP in the absence of such an agreement violates the copyright protections of SASB Standards IP.

Examples of non-commercial and commercial use are included below:

Non-commercial use:

  • Using the Standards for your industry (or industries) to collect data and report your organization’s performance internally or externally
  • Consulting the Materiality Map™ to learn about SASB Standards
  • Using SASB Standards for engagement with portfolio companies
  • Using SASB Standards for manager selection and/or evaluation (limited to asset owners)
  • Referencing SASB Standards in proxy voting guidelines or investment policies
  • Publishing an article or non-commercial content that includes limited content from SASB Standards or other IFRS sustainability resources

Commercial use:

  • Incorporating the Materiality Map™ (or a substantial reproduction of the Materiality Map™) into an internal research database
  • Using SASB Standards (or a substantial reproduction of the Standards) to rate or evaluate companies
  • Mapping SASB Standards or the Materiality Map™ to a third-party data vendor and/or ESG ratings vendor
  • Incorporating SASB Standards into investible products, ratings products, or products offering ESG data
  • Incorporating SASB Standards into research reports or analytics platforms
  • Using SASB Standards for manager selection and/or evaluation in an investment process on behalf of fee-paying clients
  • Using SASB Standards in a consultative or advisory basis

For answers to additional licensing questions, see How to License SASB Standards.

The SASB Foundation was, and the IFRS Foundation is, a standard-setting organization, not a data provider. There is no obligation for companies to report their SASB-aligned disclosures to SASB Standards technical staff, as this information is designed to be in the public domain. For licensees interested in a list of companies making disclosures consistent with SASB Standards, please see our list of reporting companies.

For answers to additional licensing questions, see How to License SASB Standards.

SASB Standards, the evidence behind the Standards and links to third-party data sets and schema are updated periodically as standard-setting projects conclude or as third parties evolve their methodologies. All licensees will be provided resources to account for any changes to ensure seamless updates and integration. SASB Standards technical staff updates the database of 90,000+ public entity ISINs mapped to their respective SICS® industry on a quarterly basis. These updates will be delivered by the 15th day of each new quarter.

For answers to additional licensing questions, see How to License SASB Standards.

International Sustainability Standards Board

Yes. The ISSB encourages the continued use and full support of SASB Standards until IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards are available for use. SASB Standards are incorporated into the ISSB's first two exposure drafts, General Requirements and Climate-related Disclosures, and will continue to be used as the starting point for the ISSB's industry-based disclosure requirements. The ISSB has committed to build on SASB Standards and leverage the industry-based approach used in their development.[1] Use of SASB Standards, therefore, will be good preparation for implementation of the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards when they are available for use.

SASB Standards are available for download at sasb.org. All SASB Standards implementation tools and resources, now part of the IFRS Foundation, are still accessible via sasb.org.

 

[1] The development of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards is subject to due process.

All open SASB Standards projects were transitioned to the ISSB as of August 1, 2022, when the Value Reporting Foundation consolidated into the IFRS Foundation. The SASB Standards Board’s recommended changes were passed to the ISSB for further deliberation and will be subject to the IFRS Foundation’s due process.

Work is expected to continue on these projects, although upcoming public consultation on the ISSB's future agenda priorities will inform their detailed delivery plan. Stay up to date on the ISSB’s work plan, decisions and projects by subscribing to receive sustainability alerts via the IFRS Foundation’s notifications dashboard.

 

Yes. In the ISSB's [draft] General Requirements Standard, companies are directed to SASB Standards as priority materials for complying with the [draft] Standard in the absence of specific IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards. Using industry-based disclosure topics and metrics in the SASB Standards enables companies to address a range of sustainability-related risks and opportunities. The ISSB's [draft] Climate-related Disclosures Standard proposes requirements for disclosure of material information about significant climate-related risks and opportunities, including industry-based requirements derived from SASB Standards.

The ISSB is now working to incorporate feedback on the General Requirements and Climate Exposure Drafts received during the public consultation that closed on July 29, 2022. For notices of upcoming consultation periods, please subscribe to receive sustainability alerts via the IFRS Foundation’s notifications dashboard. Other questions and feedback for the ISSB can be submitted via the contact form on the ISSB’s webpage.

The FSA Credential continues to be offered under the IFRS Foundation following the consolidation of the Value Reporting Foundation into the IFRS Foundation in August 2022. The transition of the SASB Standards and Integrated Reporting Framework to the IFRS Foundation and ISSB increases the global relevance and the value of the FSA Credential.

For addition questions, see the FSA Credential FAQ.

The SASB Alliance merged with the <IR> Business Network to form the IFRS Sustainability Alliance—a global community for sustainability standards and integrated reporting. Members of the IFRS Sustainability Alliance share a belief in the benefits of a coherent and comprehensive system for corporate disclosure and a more integrated approach to the way organizations plan and disclose their approach to value creation. Visit the IFRS Sustainability Alliance website for more information.

Sustainability Disclosure Landscape

In response to the demand from investors and businesses to simplify the global sustainability disclosure landscape, the IFRS Foundation formed the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), bringing together the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and the Value Reporting Foundation (which housed the SASB Standards and the Integrated Reporting Framework).

The ISSB’s work program will include developing a global baseline of sustainability disclosure standards (the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards) and a taxonomy to facilitate digital reporting, building upon the existing work of the consolidating organizations. The IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards will enable companies to provide comprehensive information about sustainability matters to the financial markets, emphasizing consistency and connectivity between financial statements and sustainability-related disclosures.

As the IFRS Sustainability Standards are developed, companies are directed to the industry-based SASB Standards as priority materials for identifying sustainability risks and opportunities. SASB Standards can be used to provide a baseline of investor-focused sustainability disclosure and to implement the principles-based TCFD recommendations. Similarly, SASB Standards enable robust implementation of the Integrated Reporting Framework, providing the comparability sought by investors.

Other sustainability-related disclosure frameworks serve their own unique purposes, and ultimately, companies must evaluate and decide which meet the needs of their key stakeholders.

 

SASB Standards can provide an industry-specific set of climate-related disclosure topics and associated metrics to help a company more effectively implement TCFD recommendations. Investors have increasingly coalesced around a combination of the TCFD recommendations and SASB Standards as foundational tools to provide capital markets with effective climate- and sustainability-related financial disclosure. As such, the ISSB’s [draft] Climate-related Disclosures Standard and [draft] General Requirements Standard combine key aspects of the two, recognizing that sustainability disclosure should contain both qualitative disclosures and quantitative metrics:

  • Qualitative information, like that recommended by the TCFD regarding a company's approach to governance, strategy and risk management, provides essential context to investors, helping them more fully understand the company’s current position, future prospects and the relevant circumstances under which performance has been achieved.
  • Quantitative metrics, like those included in SASB Standards, introduce essential elements of accountability and comparability to sustainability-related financial disclosure. They shed important light on the effectiveness of a company’s governance practices, its strategy, its approach to risk management and its progress toward key performance targets. Quantitative metrics also facilitate comparison to peers or industry benchmarks.

For more information about how the TCFD recommendations and SASB Standards fit together, see the TCFD Implementation Guide, TCFD Good Practice Handbook, and SASB Climate Risk Technical Bulletin. Visit the IFRS project page for information on the ISSB's IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures.

Within the growing field of sustainability-related disclosure, a variety of frameworks and standards have been developed to help establish a foundational layer of relevant, comparable and reliable data from companies.

  • Disclosure frameworks provide a set of principles-based guidance for how information is structured and prepared, and which broad topics are covered.
  • Disclosure standards, like SASB Standards, provide specific, replicable and detailed requirements for what should be reported for each topic. In other words, standards make frameworks actionable by providing comparable, consistent, reliable information.

Disclosure frameworks and standards are complementary and designed to be used together.

SASB Standards and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards are compatible standards for sustainability reporting. They are designed to fulfill different purposes and are based on different approaches to materiality. SASB Standards focus on sustainability issues most likely to be considered by investors in their assessments of enterprise value. GRI Standards focus on the economic, environmental and social impacts of a company in relation to sustainable development, which is of interest to a broad range of stakeholders, including investors. Many companies—including ArcelorMittal, PSA Group, Diageo, and Nike—use both SASB Standards and GRI Standards to meet the needs of their audiences.

Still, SASB Standards technical staff and GRI staff understand that the sustainability disclosure landscape can appear complicated, and for companies that use both sets of standards, the reporting effort can be high. To help address this, a joint paper demonstrates how some companies—including General Motors and Suncor Energy—have used both sets of standards together and the lessons that can be shared.

Yes. In fact, SASB Standards are mapped to the SDGs, and 98% of the industry-based topics included in SASB Standards are related to one or more SDG targets. Thus, SASB Standards can provide a useful tool for companies and investors to identify the SDG targets most relevant to the creation of enterprise value in a given industry. This can help both companies and investors allocate financial capital and other resources to areas where the potential to influence specific SDG targets aligns with the potential to impact financial returns. When companies and investors can simultaneously achieve positive impact, reduce negative impact and meet their financial risk-and-return targets, we call this intersection the “sweet spot.”

Although SASB Standards are not a tool to measure progress toward achievement of the SDGs, nor to communicate a company’s contribution toward achievement of the Goals, helping companies and investors identify the “sweet spot” has the potential to unlock significant capital toward the achievement of the SDGs. Read more about the SASB Standards capabilities and SDG mapping in the SASB Standards Industry Guide to the SDGs.

As capital markets increasingly recognize the important links between sustainability performance and financial outcomes, a complex and thriving ecosystem of organizations and initiatives has developed to provide a wide range of sustainability-related information and analytics. Disclosure standards, like SASB Standards, are the foundation of this ecosystem.

SASB Standards help investors by fostering company disclosures of sustainability data that is comparable, consistent, and material to enterprise value creation. With better data, investors can better evaluate companies’ performance to inform investment and voting decisions.

SASB Standards, along with other disclosure standards and frameworks, help ensure high-quality company-reported information, on which the ecosystem depends. Upon this foundation, data providers and rating agencies can build tools and resources for capital markets. As such, many ratings providers and investors license SASB Standards for commercial use in their proprietary ESG scoring tools and assessment methodologies. A full list of organizations that do so is available, along with several of investor case studies highlighted in the SASB Standards ESG Integration Insights series.