None of the leading standards make authentic sustainability accounting possible?

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Here’s a note from Mark McElroy (also see this note from Mark):

What do these three acronyms have in common: IFRS, EFRAG and TCFD?

Well, apart from the fact that they all refer to sustainability or non-financial reporting standards, they also have another thing in common: the letter “F”, as in “F” for financial.

These three non-financial disclosure standards, that is, are all put forward by institutions within the financial community for the benefit OF the financial community — investors in particular. And that is why none of them adequately take the interests of other groups (i.e., other stakeholders) into account, insofar as the non-financial performance of organizations is concerned.

And now that the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has climbed into bed with EFRAG, it too has more or less gone public by giving up all pretense as to being anything other than a lap dog to the financial community — not that there was ever any doubt about that given the influence and control of the Big 4 accounting firms at GRI.

To be clear, none of the leading international standards for sustainability or non-financial reporting make authentic sustainability accounting possible, much less show any signs of actually understanding it. Instead, what we see is a cast of characters whose mission and purpose is to cater to the narrow needs and interests of investors, even as they falsely cloak themselves in the halo effect of sustainability. The fact that the IFRS Foundation and GRI, in particular, refer to their standards making boards (ISSB and GSSB, respectively) in those terms is especially shameful.

At a time when the world is arguably experiencing a planetary accounting emergency, in which our prevailing performance accounting systems are failing to provide us with precisely the information we need to really understand the sustainability of our own behaviors, to have the financial community at the same time be playing such a corruptive role is truly appalling.

To all of these representatives of the financial industry in the sustainability reporting space, I can only repeat a question so famously put forward during a similar period in our history, “Have you no decency?”