At its April meeting, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) confirmed its intention to advance the consultation on its proposed new standard for sustainability assurance, International Standard on Sustainability AssuranceTM (ISSA) 5000, General Requirements for Sustainability Assurance Engagements. Subject to the expected IAASB approval of the Exposure Draft in June, stakeholders can now expect the public consultation on the proposed standard to open in the latter part of July or early August 2023 and extend into December 2023. The consultation was originally scheduled to commence in October 2023.
The advanced consultation will support two objectives. First, the earlier publication, accompanied by a comprehensive and global outreach strategy, will enable the IAASB to gain broad and early input into the development of ISSA 5000. Second, the advanced consultation period will better ensure the completion of the final standard in 2024. In a recent report, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) highlighted the importance of having ISSA 5000 developed in accordance with due process and ready in 2024 to support a global baseline for sustainability reporting and assurance standards that meets the public interest.
When complete, ISSA 5000 will be a stand-alone, overarching standard suitable for both limited and reasonable assurance of sustainability information reported across any sustainability topics. The standard will enable engagements of sustainability information prepared under multiple frameworks and be profession-agnostic, supporting its use by both professional accountant and non-professional accountant assurance practitioners in performing sustainability assurance engagements.
During the consultation process, the IAASB will continue to coordinate closely with the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) as the IESBA progresses its project to develop ethics and independence standards for sustainability reporting and assurance. This coordination will ensure that the IESBA and IAASB’s collective efforts provide an integrated package of ethics and assurance standards for sustainability by the end of 2024. The IAASB will also actively monitor, engage, and coordinate with other standard setters and organizations developing standards and guidance on sustainability reporting and assurance.
“The IAASB has prioritized the development of a high-quality, global sustainability assurance standard. In our recent outreach, stakeholders told us they are awaiting our proposals and urged us not to delay getting them into the market to benefit fully from diverse stakeholder opinion,” commented IAASB Chair Tom Seidenstein. “What will be critical now, as already encouraged by IOSCO, is for issuers, investors and other users, assurance providers, national standard setters, and others across the ecosystem to plan resources so that they can provide us their views during the consultation process. This is essential to ensure a final standard that is robust and drives high-quality assurance engagements, while meeting the needs of users and being profession-agnostic.”
The IAASB recently discussed this revised timetable with its oversight body, the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB). Linda de Beer, the PIOB Chair, said, “The PIOB is encouraging the IAASB to advance the development of a global assurance standard for sustainability reports and supports IAASB’s early and extensive consultation plan, as proposed by the IAASB’s timelines. It is in the public interest to have timely a single international assurance standard, set with an appropriate level of public interest oversight, to avoid fragmentation and potential market confusion in respect of the work effort and the level of assurance provided by all assurance providers on sustainability reports. We also welcome the IAASB and IESBA continuing coordination.”