SASB publishes industry-specific sustainability accounting standards

By Ken Tysiac

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) on Wednesday announced that it has published what it billed as the world’s first set of industry-specific sustainability accounting standards covering financially material issues.

Covering 77 industries, the standards are designed to help businesses better identify and communicate opportunities for sustaining long-term value creation. The standards address the subset of sustainability factors most likely to have financially material impacts on the typical company in an industry and are intended to help investors and companies make more-informed decisions.

The standards are available for download on the SASB website and are the culmination of a six-year effort that included extensive research and market consultation, with the engagement of prominent investors and businesses from all sectors around the world. SASB Chair Jeffrey Hales, Ph.D., said the standards address universal concepts that are important for investors and businesses around the world.

“This is an important milestone for global capital markets,” Hales said in a news release. “Companies and investors around the world now have codified, market-based standards for measuring, managing, and reporting on sustainability factors that drive value and affect financial performance.”

The standards are designed to support reporting for financial filings, sustainability reports, annual reports, and corporate websites. The standards can be used alongside other sustainability frameworks, and they are aligned with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and complement the Global Reporting Initiative.

“SASB’s newly codified standards will help companies around the world focus on the sustainability issues that matter to financial performance and to better communicate their performance on these issues to global investors in a decision-useful and comparable way,” Robert Herz, SASB Foundation board member and former FASB chairman, said in a news release.

SASB will follow a regular, multiyear cycle of standards updates to keep the standards relevant and responsive to evolving market needs.

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.

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