The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) has taken the next step in advancing public sector sustainability reporting once resources required to begin guidance development have been secured. The aim is to build on strong stakeholder support.
Reporting on climate change is one of the most fundamental issues in sustainability reporting, which also encompasses environmental, social and governance issues. Despite momentous government influence over the global economy, remarkably there is no internationally recognised public sector reporting framework to guide countries how they measure and report on their critical contributions to addressing this climate emergency.
The IPSASB decided to commence the scoping of three potential public sector specific sustainability reporting projects in its December meeting. The move comes in light of the growing urgency of this issue. The decision consolidates IPSASB’s 25 years of public sector standard setting experience as well as the strong global stakeholder support for the proposals in its Consultation Paper, Advancing Public Sector Sustainability Reporting.
“Public sector-specific sustainability reporting guidance would encourage transparency, allowing governments to be held accountable for the long-term impacts of their interventions, and enabling better-informed decision-making,” said Ian Carruthers, IPSASB Chair. “The feedback we’ve received from stakeholders around the world is clear: the public sector needs its own specific sustainability reporting framework and the IPSASB should lead its development. But in addition to our existing expertise, it is a fact that we will need additional support, both financial and otherwise, from the global community before we can take on the development of global guidance that would equip the public sector with the tools necessary to report on climate change and other sustainability issues.”
The IPSASB’s immediate action is to set up a Sustainability Task Force to lead this first critical phase of research and scoping. The Board’s prioritized research topics are:
- General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information,
- Climate-Related Disclosures, and
- Natural Resources – Non-Financial Disclosures (in parallel with the development of financial reporting guidance proposed in its Consultation Paper, Natural Resources).