Global securities regulators are calling for swift action to develop more consistent and useful sustainability disclosure standards.
Following a meeting to review the work of its Sustainable Finance Task Force over the past year, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) said it sees an “urgent need” for global standards that “improve the consistency, comparability and reliability of sustainability reporting.”
IOSCO noted that investor demand for sustainability-related information from issuers is “currently not being properly met” as companies “often report sustainability-related information selectively, referencing different frameworks.”
To address the issue, the IOSCO board identified several priorities for improving disclosures by both companies and asset managers, including: globally consistent standards; industry-specific quantitative metrics; and more closely integrating accounting standards and facilitating independent oversight of companies’ disclosures.
IOSCO said it’s committed to working with the IFRS Foundation and others to advance these priorities.
“There is an urgent demand to improve sustainability reporting in a way that meets market needs,” said Ashley Alder, chair of IOSCO and CEO of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong, in a statement.
“I believe that IOSCO is in a unique position to underpin market acceptance of high-quality sustainability disclosure standards by endorsing the system architecture for sustainability standard setting under the IFRS Foundation – just as we did 20 years ago when we endorsed IFRS financial reporting standards,” he added.
Initially, the focus of global standards should be climate change-related risks and opportunities, IOSCO said, before broadening the work to other sustainability issues.
“Given the urgency of the climate challenge, IOSCO supports a ‘climate first’ approach in the near term,” it said. “However, the IFRS Foundation should also move forward quickly to develop standards covering other sustainability topics, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.”