Advisors to the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) have urged the standard setter to consider the overlap between human capital and human rights when it decides which projects it adds to its work plan as part of its two-year agenda consultation.

Members of the board’s Sustainability Consultative Committee (SCC) also called on the ISSB to weigh the merits of adding a public-good criteria to criteria for assessing potential projects.

Pepijn Rijvers who represents the World Business Council for Sustainable Development on the committee, said there was “concern […] about the separation of human capital and human rights into two separate areas”.

Rijvers told the SCC meeting on 2 June the fear was that the ISSB might not tackle either of the two projects or work on them independently of each other.

This, he added, would lead to “a potentially false separation between human rights, which can be seen mostly at the value chain or community level, versus human capital, which is more at the workforce level.” The ISSB launched its first agenda consultation with the release of a Request for Information on 4 May.

It is looking for feedback on four potential sustainability-related research projects:

  • biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services (BEES);
  • human capital;
  • human rights; and
  • integration of sustainability-related financial information with other financial information.

The process will set the tone and direction of the board’s work plan for the next two years.

Staff said the decision to consult on the basis of a two-year work plan “felt a lot more comfortable” given the fast-moving environment for sustainability.

The consultation process is looking for feedback on:

  • strategic balance and direction of the board’s activities;
  • criteria for assessing the priority of new projects; and
  • priority, scope and structure of new standard-setting and research projects.

The feeback from SCC members came the same day as the ISSB’s parent body, the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, announced a partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to form a group of corporate leaders to promote the adoption of the ISSB’s forthcoming sustainability standards.

This new group will be known as the Forum ISSB Preparers Group and will offer insights and perspectives to the ISSB to achieve a comprehensive global baseline for sustainability reporting.

Meanwhile, Mathilde Mesnard from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also warned the board during the SCC meeting on 2 June that its work plan risked becoming overly ambitious.

Noting the extensive list of topics on page 14 of the consultation paper, she said there were questions about whether the board could tackle new projects alongside its existing commitments work.

Both developments come after the G7 member nations underscored their commitment to aligning financial flows with climate-resilient development, championing clean technologies, and improving sustainability disclosures.

In a post-meeting communiqué last month, the G7 said they “support” the ISSB’s push to finalise its first two sustainability standards for general reporting.

They added that they “look forward to the ISSB’s future work on disclosure on biodiversity and human capital, in line with its work plan consultation”.

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