As of August 2022, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) of the IFRS Foundation assumed responsibility for the SASB Standards. The ISSB set a clear path for the SASB Standards when it launched draft IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards, explaining how initially the industry-based SASB Standards can help companies identify their sustainability risks and opportunities along with metrics to use in their disclosures.
Over time and through IFRS due process, the SASB Standards will inform the industry-based requirements in, and eventually be replaced by, the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards. As such, the ISSB is updating and improving the SASB Standards to provide a solid footing for when companies use them in applying the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards. Specifically, they are enhancing the international applicability of the SASB Standards and continuing the SASB Standards projects handed over by the VRF as foundational work in 2023.
As part of that process, a group of ISSB members—chaired by Jeff Hales, former Chair of the SASB Standards Board—has been established and tasked with developing recommendations for the ISSB related to the maintenance, evolution and enhancement of the SASB Standards. The group will develop drafts of the required exposure drafts of amendments to the SASB Standards and, after considering the stakeholder feedback, drafts of the final amendments. The ISSB as a full board will consider the recommendations of this group in ISSB meetings (which are public) and ratify the exposure drafts and, subsequently the final amendments prepared by the group. The comment period for the exposure drafts will be the same as for those related to IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards.
In the meantime, report preparers will benefit from starting now, using the SASB Standards to meet the immediate needs of investors while laying the groundwork for adoption of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards in the coming years.
Historical Information about the SASB Standard-Setting Process
The SASB Standards were published in 2018, following six years of research and extensive market input. To maintain the SASB Standards, the technical staff conducted research, engaged with corporate professionals, investors, and subject matter experts, and monitored existing, evolving, and emerging sustainability issues. The staff approached changes to the Standards through a rigorous due process which included evidence-based research, broad and balanced stakeholder participation, public transparency, and independent oversight and direction from the SASB Standards Board. As a complement to the governance of the SASB Standards Board, the SASB Standards Advisory Group was a committee of volunteer industry experts that provided ongoing feedback on the implementation of SASB standards and emerging sustainability issues. For documentation of past Standard-setting activities, please visit the Standard-Setting Archive.
Following the publication of the SASB Standards in 2018, the SASB Standards Board and technical staff approached updates to the Standards using a project-based model, enabling focused Standard-setting to effectively address key issues. This model provided the ability to address broad themes, regulatory changes, and other trends which affected multiple sectors, while still retaining the ability to pursue targeted, industry-specific issues where appropriate. Research and market engagement provided insights that impacted the prioritization of projects.
The SASB Standards Board’s due process involved a set of distinct but connected activities centered around three key decisions:
- Initiating a Standard-setting project
- Proposing a Standards update
- Issuing a Standards update
The key activities that technical staff engaged in that informed SASB Standards Board decisions are described below.
Technical staff worked under the guidance of the SASB Standards Board to monitor industries and issues to develop research projects. These investigative projects led to staff recommendations for the Board, which then determined whether the findings merited the initiation of a Standard-setting project.
Technical staff pursued a variety of activities, centered around research and consultation, to support the development of a proposed Standards update. These activities included consultation with the SASB Standards advisory groups, and/or other interested persons and organizations and/or the public issuance of briefing documents or discussion papers.
The SASB Standards Board solicited and encouraged investors, companies, and subject matter experts to submit comments on any proposed Standards update during formal public comment periods. Public comments were a key input that the SASB Standards Board considered when voting whether to approve the proposed new or amended Standards.
After a public comment period closed the SASB Standards Board decided on whether to vote to approve the proposed Standards update. To support such deliberations, technical staff produced summaries of the feedback received, or summaries of other related research and/or consultations.
Upon issuance of a new or amended Standard, the SASB Standards Board and technical staff sought to assess the market’s use and implementation of the Standard. Post-implementation review helped ensure that the SASB Standards were accomplishing their intended purposes of being cost-effective and decision-useful.
To follow the further development of the SASB Standards under the ISSB, visit the IFRS Foundation notifications dashboard to register for an account and sign up for email notifications.