Overview of IFRS S1 and IFRS S2

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On 26 June 2023 the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) released its first two International Sustainability Disclosure Standards (IFRS SDS or the Standards) that become effective for periods beginning on or after 1 January 2024.

ISSB background

The ISSB was launched by the IFRS Foundation at COP26 with the aim of improving the consistency and quality of sustainability reporting across the globe, by matching the importance of sustainability reporting with the current regulations around financial reporting. To reinforce this message, the ISSB sits alongside the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and is overseen by the trustees of the IFRS Foundation and the Monitoring board.

The ISSB brings together the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) and the Value Reporting Foundation (VRF), the name behind the Integrated Reporting Framework and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Standards.

International support for global standards

Sustainability reporting is becoming increasingly important for stakeholders, with many larger companies already adopting some form of sustainability reporting to accommodate the demands of their key stakeholders. One of the key challenges faced by many investors and other stakeholders is they have not had access to good quality and globally comparable sustainability information, a stark difference to financial data. The developments being made by the ISSB are therefore game changing for sustainability reporting globally.

This is recognised by the international community. The ISSB has international support and is backed by the G7, G20, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the Financial Stability Board, amongst others. The Standards issued by the ISSB will help combat the challenges of companies 'greenwashing', meaning stakeholders will be able to make better-informed decisions with confidence.

IFRS S1: General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information

The main objective of this Standard is to disclose all information about sustainability-related risks and opportunities that could reasonably be expected to affect a company’s prospects.

IFRS S1 provides the basic requirements for sustainability disclosures, which should be used with IFRS S2 as well as the future Standards the ISSB releases. The Standard:

  • requires disclosure of material information about sustainability-related risks and opportunities with the financial statements, to meet investor information needs
  • requires industry specific disclosures and refers to the industry-based SASB standards for guidance when identifying disclosures about sustainability-related risks or opportunities
  • refers to sources to help companies identify sustainability-related risks and opportunities and information (for everything other than in the scope of IFRS S2)
  • requires disclosures that enable investors to understand the connections between the sustainability-related risks and opportunities and the sustainability-related financial disclosures and financial statements.
  • is GAAP agnostic.

IFRS S2: Climate-related Disclosures

The two Standards are designed to be applied together. However, IFRS S2 has been developed to capture climate-specific requirements which includes:

  • Strategy disclosures that distinguish between physical and transitional risks
  • Disclosure of their plans to respond to climate-related risks and opportunities, including how climate-related targets are set and any targets it is required to meet by law or regulation
  • Companies should perform scenario analysis to explain how various climate-related events may impact the business in the future
  • Climate-related metrics and target disclosures should include:
    • Cross-industry metrics that are relevant to all companies e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, refer to our publication on ‘What are sustainability scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?’ for more information on greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Industry-based metrics relevant to companies within the related industries and
    • Company specific metrics considered by the board or management when measuring progress towards set targets.

Practical next steps for preparing to report

Get ready – Be prepared for the possibility of reporting on 2024 information – remember the sustainability report will have to be reported on at the same time as your financial statements which will cause increased pressure on year-end reporting (the ISSB exemption noted above may be allowed for the first reporting period, but is dependent upon local jurisdictions and regulators).

Understand your current position – evaluate your current governance structure and sustainability strategy to ensure it is fit for purpose going forwards and perform gap analysis to identify areas where work is needed to enable compliance with the Standards.

Create a sustainability roadmap – After understanding your current position, establish how you can address the gaps identified, adopting a timeline of key milestones for your sustainability journey, identifying individuals within your organisation responsible and any potential constraints.

Ensure good quality data – ensure adequate controls and processes are in place now to help collate and analyse good quality sustainability data that will compliment your disclosures.

Familiarise yourself with the Standards – Companies who are already reporting on sustainability information will likely have an advantage but it’s important to note there will be some differences in the Standards which you will need to identify. Not having a good understanding of all the applicable standards could result in lengthy reports containing duplication or omitted information resulting in non-compliance.

Educate your organisation – Ensure all levels of your business have a sound understanding on the importance of sustainability to help drive, grow and implement you sustainability strategy, ensuring there is buy-in at the top of your organisation to encourage the correct mindset to filter down.

How we can help

We hope you find the information helpful in giving you some insight into IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards IFRS S1 and S2.