The Standard-Setting Process

SASB follows a multi-year cycle—expected to be every 3-4 years—for its standard-setting process, as illustrated in the diagram below. Changes to the standards occur through Updates which are based upon Technical Agenda setting informed by evidence-based research, balanced stakeholder consultation, ongoing stakeholder engagement proposed Updates and public comment—all of which are subject to independent oversight and public transparency. Additional information about the SASB’s due process is available in the Rules of Procedure.

Where SASB is in the current cycle

SASB recently finished the final phase of the current cycle—Updates to Standards. As we reviewed and analyzed all the feedback from our most recent public comment period, we followed a very specific process and set of steps leading up to codification of the standards. We’ve outlined these steps below.


The following words or phrases have precise, specialized meanings in the context of the SASB’s standard-setting work. Additional information about the SASB’s principles and processes are available in the Conceptual Framework and Rules of Procedure.

Research Agenda: This is a list of priority industry-specific areas and broad topics being considered for research, and guides the medium- to long-term efforts of the SASB staff.  Research Agenda items may include topics or issues that  represent emerging or evolving issues, research needs outside the scope of the regular multi-year standard-setting cycle, including those of a theoretical or conceptual nature.

Technical Agenda: Specific recommended changes to the standards, substantially sourced from the Research Agenda, that are being considered by the Standards Board for further staff research and the building of a Basis for Conclusion.

Exposure Draft: This is a proposed update of one or all industry standards which is exposed to the public through a public comment period.

Stakeholder Consultation: A systematic outreach process for involving a balanced group of representative stakeholders in the standard-setting process.

Standards Advisory Group: Individuals from companies, investment organizations and subject matter experts. This group meets on a regular and as-needed basis to provide expert perspectives to SASB staff and the Standards Board on Research Agenda, cross-cutting and other issues relevant to the next update to the standards.

SASB Public Comment Summaries

SASB received 1,596 global and sector-specific comments, which covered 133 of the 248 proposed changes and other components of the Exposure Drafts. Comments were made on 66 of the 77 SASB industry standards. SASB staff has reviewed and summarized these comments for consideration by the Standards Board, as well as to provide transparency and public insight into the extent and nature of the comments. The public comment summaries provide a consolidated view of comments received from stakeholders during the comment period, including a general characterization of comments received, a high-level description of overarching comments, and a consolidated summary of comments received for all topics in the Exposure Drafts for each industry.

Read the Public Comment Summaries

SASB Exposure Draft of the Standards

In October 2017, SASB published Exposure Drafts of the standards (containing proposed updates to the provisional standards, as described in the 2017 Technical Agenda) for 79 industries in 11 major sectors within the Sustainability Industry Classification System. From October 2 to January 31, 2017,  SASB invited feedback as to whether topics included in the standards or updates to the standards are likely to constitute material information, whether metrics fulfill SASB’s criteria for metric selection, and whether the standards or updates to the standards are technically accurate and constitute a basis for “suitable criteria” for data verification. The Exposure Drafts are accompanied with associated Basis for Conclusion documents, which provide the rationale and supporting evidence for the proposed changes. This process has culminated in codification of the standards in 2018.

Read the Exposure Drafts & Basis for Conclusions

SASB Technical Agenda

The 2017 Technical Agenda comprises 248 items across 11 sectors that were reviewed by the Standards Board for possible changes to the provisional phase standards prior to codification. The approved items include those for which significant supporting evidence or market feedback was received, indicating that the change would improve the quality of the standard, including the materiality, cost-effectiveness, and/or decision-usefulness. Specifically, the need for changes arose from: 1) stakeholder feedback on the provisional standards; 2) regulatory or scientific advancement; and/or 3) identification and rationalization of cross-cutting topics that affect multiple industries or sectors.

The Technical Agenda items were prioritized from market feedback obtained during SASB’s stakeholder engagement process. In a recent six-month consultation period, 141 companies (along with 19 industry associations, representing hundreds of companies) and 38 institutional investors (who consulted on 271 industries) provided feedback on the provisional standards. To develop the provisional standards from 2012 through 2016, SASB convened industry working groups with a balance of corporate professionals, investors, and industry experts.

Read the Technical Agenda (PDF)

For more information, see the FAQ.

SASB Chairman’s Report

The Chairman provides an update several times a year, outlining the activities of the SASB. Sign up to receive the report by email.

May 2019 report (PDF)*

September 2018 report (PDF)*

May 2018 report (PDF)*

* report frequency remains the same, but may not align with the end of the quarter