ISSB standards should include a focus on impact

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In this note, Ken Pucker writes about the need for a focus of sustainability reporting on the impact on the planet:

For two decades, standard setters have battled to land a definitive “sustainability” reporting regime (S&P, for example, tracks 41 standards and frameworks for their ESG ratings). ISSB seemed, to many, a welcome, past due step toward harmonization. And yet, ISSB’s recently released definition of sustainability makes no mention of the impact of companies on the planet? According to ISSB sustainability is:

“The ability for a company to sustainably maintain resources and relationships with and manage its dependencies and impacts within its whole business ecosystem over the short, medium, and long term. Sustainability is a condition for a company to access over time the resources and relationships needed (such as financial, human and natural) ensuring their proper preservation and regeneration to achieve its goals.”

In 2021, I wrote an article focused on the obsession with sustainability reporting. I wrote: “the focus on reporting may actually be an obstacle to progress—consuming bandwidth, exaggerating gains, and distracting from the very real need for changes in mindsets, regulation, and corporate behavior.” This latest “single materiality” definition from ISSB confirms my fears. Even with A+ single materiality disclosure and reporting, I do not see how these efforts will advance living within planetary boundaries.

I hope that I am wrong.