The sustainability regulatory environment is rapidly evolving, driven by the increased demand from investors, those charged with governance, the public and other stakeholders for sustainability and ESG reporting and assurance. Standard-setters globally and across various jurisdictions are working to develop sustainability reporting and assurance standards to address concerns about the current lack of standardisation and complexity of multiple frameworks. The IESBA is working to develop profession agnostic ethical and independence standards for sustainability.
APESB is continuing to monitor developments in sustainability and ESG reporting, particularly from the international standard setters (ISSB, IESBA, IAASB) and local standard setters (AUASB and AASB).
IESBA Sustainability Standard
The IESBA is working on projects to develop a profession-agnostic framework for ethics and independence standards for sustainability reporting.
The IESBA is likely to approve an exposure draft on the proposed ethics standards for sustainability reporting and assurance at their December 2023 Board meeting.
IESBA establishes a Sustainability Reference Group
On 30 June 2023, the IESBA announced the establishment of the Sustainability Reference Group (SRG) to support the work of its Sustainability Task Force. The SRG members will serve as a “sounding board” to the Sustainability Taskforce, providing insights, expertise and guidance in the development of worldwide ethics and independence standards for sustainability reporting and assurance. APESB CEO and IESBA Board Member Mr. Channa Wijesinghe will chair the SRG. Read the IESBA Media Release
On behalf of the IESBA, APESB hosted a roundtable on Sustainability in Sydney as part of the IESBA’s global series of four roundtables. The event was held at the CA ANZ offices. It was held to obtain input from Trans-Tasman stakeholders to help shape the development of new ethics and independence standards for sustainability reporting and assurance.
The IESBA have released a summary of the feedback from participants of the IESBA’s four Global Sustainability Roundtables. The paper also provides an overview of the responses and proposals made by the Sustainability Task Force.
The Treasury of Australia have conducted two consultations on climate-related financial disclosure in Australia.
In response to the first consultation which sought initial views on key considerations for the design and implementation of standardised, internationally‑aligned requirements for disclosure of climate‑related financial risks and opportunities in Australia, APESB submission highlighted its role in developing and maintaining a robust ethical framework to underpin Australia’s reporting and assurance activities.
APESB’s submission to the second consultation was supportive of the proposed positions, however, it raised a concern that the framework for professional and ethical standards was not explicitly mentioned or considered. APESB recommended the Treasury consider the comprehensive requirements in the Code, which could be applied to all those preparing and presenting climate-related information and the related assurance reports.
On 30 March 2023, APESB and CPA Australia held a joint interactive panel event in Sydney on global developments in ethics and assurance for sustainability. The discussion was moderated by APESB CEO and IESBA Member Channa Wijesinghe and included the following distinguished panellists:
– Mark Babington – Executive Director of Regulatory Standards at the Financial Reporting Council UK and IESBA Member
– Bill Edge – Chair of the Australian Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB) and Member of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board
– Doug Niven – Chief Accountant, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
– Marje Russ – Chair of the New Zealand Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (NZAuASB)
On 2 August 2023, the IAASB issued its exposure draft on the proposed International Standard on Sustainability Assurance (ISSA) 5000, General Requirements for Sustainability Assurance Engagements for public consultation with comments due by 1 December 2023.
The proposed ISSA 5000 will serve as a comprehensive, stand-alone standard suitable for any sustainability assurance engagement. Both accountants and non-accountant assurance practitioners can use it to perform high-quality sustainability assurance engagements. To complement this release, the Board have also issued Frequently Asked Questions on the proposed ISSA 5000. Read the IAASB Media Release.
In July 2023, the ISSB released the first two IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards:
The standards are effective from 1 January 2024, but individual jurisdictions may elect a different date for adoption.
In July 2023, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) announced its endorsement of the ISSB standards. The IOSCO have called on its 130 member jurisdictions to consider how they can incorporate the ISSB standards into their respective regulatory frameworks to deliver consistency and comparability of sustainability-related disclosures worldwide.
Access APESB pronouncements on the go.