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Key Takeaways from the 2024 IFRS Sustainability Symposium

From Brazil to Singapore, jurisdictions around the world are introducing their own mandatory disclosure requirements in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Sustainability Standards.

In this context, the 2nd annual IFRS Sustainability Symposium in New York on February 22, 2024, focused on: 

  1. Jurisdictional uptake of the IFRS Sustainability Standards
  2. Building capacity to support reporting under these standards.

To learn more about the International Sustainability Standards Board ( ISSB) and the IFRS Sustainability Standards, visit Foundational Knowledge on our Sustainability Simplified Knowledge Hub.

As Canada prepares to join the club of jurisdictions with disclosure requirements based on the IFRS Sustainability Standards, here are 6 takeaways from the 2024 IFRS Sustainability Symposium for CPAs in Canada.

1) What are the ISSB's priorities in 2024?

The ISSB identified the following priorities for the 2024 fiscal year:

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  • Working with jurisdictions
  • Inaugural adoption guide (preview)
  • Transparency in progress
  • Encourage voluntary adoption

2) How is the ISSB building capacity to support reporting?

ISSB Board Member Jingdong Hua provided an update on how the ISSB is helping to build capacity for reporting under its standards.

ISSB’s 4-pillar strategy

  1. Providing guidance around IFRS S1 and S2 via their knowledge hub.
  2. Providing transitional relief and jurisdictional extensions.
  3. Providing jurisdictional guidance through a jurisdictional adoption guide.
  4. Providing educational materials, technical support and advocacy through the IFRS Sustainability Alliance

3) What are regulators saying about the IFRS Sustainability Standards?

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) represents 130 member jurisdictions, collectively regulating more than 95% of the world’s financial markets.

Jean-Paul Servais, Chair of IOSCO, reiterated their endorsement of the IFRS Sustainability Standards, noting that the last time IOSCO provided an endorsement of this nature was for the IFRS accounting standards decades ago. He also reiterated that IOSCO would help its member jurisdictions adopt the IFRS Sustainability Standards.  

Mr. Servais emphasized the need to build trust in sustainability reporting. The foundation of that trust, in addition to a globally recognized set of sustainability standards, is a set of ethical and independence requirements and assurance standards.   

The release of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB)’s exposure draft of the first sustainability-specific assurance standard, International Standard on Sustainability Assurance (ISSA 5000); as well as the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA)’s exposure draft of the International Ethics Standards for Sustainability Assurance (IESSA), are an important step in building that trust. 

4) What do investors have to say about sustainability-related financial disclosures?

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  • A study by CPP Investments, FCLT Global and Wharton found that companies who “walk the talk” on employee engagement and well-being experience on average, 1.3% higher return on invested capital (ROIC) over 13 months and ~4% higher ROIC over 3 years. 

5) Which jurisdictions are currently looking at adopting the IFRS Sustainability Standards? 

  • Australia
  • Brazil 
  • Canada
  • Costa Rica
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom

6) What’s the next step for Canada, and what do Canadian CPAs need to know?

In March of 2024, the Canadian Sustainability Standards Board (CSSB) is expected to issue an exposure draft of the Canadian Sustainability Disclosure Standards (CSDS), which are based on the IFRS Sustainability Standards as issued by the ISSB. This will mark an important milestone in our national sustainability journey, setting the stage for sustainability reporting regulation here in Canada.

While the exposure drafts are expected to mirror the international standards, amendments considered appropriate for the Canadian market are expected, and the comment period provides an opportunity for CPAs across Canada to put forward their perspectives.

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) announced that they looked forward to engaging and collaborating with the CSSB, and would consult further on how to adopt disclosure standards for a Canadian context. This consultation is an opportunity for CPAs to help shape uniquely Canadian sustainability reporting standards that reflect the reality of our geography, our economy, and our environmental commitments.

Be sure to visit Sustainability Simplified regularly for the latest updates on reporting and assurance standards, regulations impacting Canadian companies, and everything that CPAs need to take the lead in building a more sustainable future. 

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