Message from the IPSASB Chair
We all have our part to play in addressing climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the UN. As public sector accountants, we have been asked to, and can play an important leadership role.
The World Bank’s January 31, 2022 report, 'Sovereign Climate and Nature Reporting,' provides welcome further impetus to the critical issue of advancing sustainability reporting in the public sector. The report statistics that sovereign bonds make up almost 40% of the US$100 trillion global bond market is particularly striking. Together with the fact that the general government sector expenditure in OECD countries is mover 40% of GDP on average, and that the employs around 20% of the workforce globally, this underlines both the urgency and importance of filling the current guidance gap.
Existing IPSASB Guidance
In terms of public sector reporting, the IPSASB has already provided strong foundations for reporting on programs addressing both climate change and the SDGs in its Recommended Practice Guideline (RPG) 3 on ‘Reporting Service Performance Information’. This can be applied now, together with RPG 1 ‘Reporting on the Long-Term Sustainability of an Entity’s Finances’ which can be used to bring together the financial impacts of non-financial metrics and risks being managed. The IPSASB has recently added a limited-scope project on Reporting Sustainability Program Information, with the aim of supporting the OECD’s development of principles for green budgeting through the possible addition of Implementation Guidance to show more explicitly how these RPGs can be applied in the context of sustainability reporting.
What the IPSASB is Doing Now
Financial statements on their own will not provide all the information needed – non-financial information on progress towards SDG targets, the key drivers of climate change, and other sustainability information will also be required. To advance public sector sustainability reporting the IPSASB is taking forward the World Bank report’s invitation to lead a consultative process to gain support for developing the necessary framework.
To kick-off the discussion, the IPSASB has issued its Consultation Paper, Advancing Public Sector Sustainability Reporting. Comments are requested by September 9, 2022.
The IPSASB has the experience, processes, and relationships to develop global public sector sustainability reporting guidance efficiently and effectively. We are ready to take on this responsibility, and the consultation paper we released outlines how we would tackle this critical work through collaboration with others, and building on our 25 years of standard setting experience.
The aim of the public consultation process is to evaluate the demand from stakeholders for global public sector specific sustainability reporting guidance, as well as the degree of support for IPSASB developing such guidance, the priority areas for coverage, and how this might be approached.
Within this consultation paper, the IPSASB proposes to:
- Serve as the standard setter for global public sector specific sustainability reporting guidance, drawing upon its experience, processes and global relationships.
- Develop initial guidance focused on the topics of general disclosure requirements for sustainability-related information and climate-related disclosures by drawing on the initial work of the newly formed International Sustainability Standards Board in these areas.
- Approach guidance development at an accelerated pace, with a potential for releasing initial guidance by the end of 2023.
To this end, strong stakeholder support and commitment are essential. The consultation paper lays out what the IPSASB believes is necessary to get started now, and the resources, including additional funding, required, to deliver public sector specific sustainability reporting guidance, in a timely manner.
How to Comment
Access the Consultation Paper on our website. Comments are requested by September 9, 2022.
IPSASB Related Guidance
The following guidance has been issued related to climate change and sustainability reporting:
Sustainability Reporting Guidance
- IFRS Foundation
- International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)
- Exposure Draft IFRS S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information (General Requirements Exposure Draft)
- Exposure Draft IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures (Climate Exposure Draft)
- Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
- Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB)
- Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
- Integrated Reporting Framework Board
- Sustainability Reporting Standards Board (SASB)
- Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TFCD)