The vice-chair of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has urged constituents to provide the board with detailed feedback on their priorities for the standard setter’s workplan for the next two years.

Sue Lloyd’s comments came during a meeting of the ISSB’s Sustainability Standards Advisory Forum (SSAF) on 25 July.

She said the board needs to “get as much colour as we can from our stakeholders” in order to make informed decisions about its priorities.

She specifically called on constituents to provide as much detail as possible about their thinking on the relative merits of the board’s potential workstreams on human capital and human rights.

The ISSB fired the starting gun on its first agenda consultation with the release of a Request for Information on 5 May.

The consultation paper seeks feedback on four potential sustainability-related research projects:

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

The board’s chair, Emmanuel Faber, has already warned, however, that work on any or all of the projects will have to compete for a share of the board’s limited resources.

Members of the SSAF told the board, however, that deciding on the cut between those competing priorities might not be as simple as picking one or more of them.

Instead, they warned, the board would also need to take account of what individual jurisdictions understand those potential projects to cover.

Canadian SSAF member Charles-Antoine St-Jean noted that “the question of human rights is very much associated with the reconciliation agenda in Canada [with] the indigenous peoples of Canada”.

This was, he explained, “a very, very different kind of issue than we’re dealing with human capital and human rights”.

And Korean Financial Services Commission participant Kim Kwang-il reminded the board there was a wider world for the ISSB to consider beyond just Europe.

He urged the board to consider the views “of countries in the Asian regions during your outreach activities, particularly on South Korea, China and Japan and Australia”, which he said were “also important players in sustainability reporting”.

As for specific priorities, Kwang-il said: “[M]any Korean companies also indicate that sett[ing] a standard on human capital takes a top priority compared to other topics such as biodiversity and human rights.

“We don’t know exactly why, but we can guess that the shareholders are mostly companies [that] are more familiar with human capital compared with the other two topics.”

The discussion comes in the wake of a post-meeting communiqué from the Group of 20 Nations in May this year in which global leaders said they looked forward to “the ISSB’s future work on disclosure on biodiversity and human capital, in line with its work plan consultation”.

The ISSB’s agenda consultation is open for public comments until 1 September.

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