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.