Global efforts to standardize sustainability reporting are coming to fruition, with the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Disclosures (CSRD), the inaugural IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards and Switzerland’s Ordinance on Climate Disclosures (Climate Ordinance) all on the radar of companies in Switzerland.
In this article, we explore why the release of the new IFRS Sustainability Disclosures Standards is an opportunity to prepare for sweeping sustainability reporting requirements.
IFRS Sustainability Disclosures Standards
In June 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) issued its first two IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards:
- IFRS S1: General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information
- IFRS S2: Climate-related Disclosures
These much-anticipated standards are the result of intensive and accelerated efforts by the ISSB, which was only founded in November 2021. Both IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 are effective for reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2024, although a simplified transition option is available for the first year. Mandatory application of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards depends on each jurisdiction’s endorsement or regulatory processes. Besides, there is – currently – no formal requirement for IFRS adopters to also apply IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards.
Situation in Switzerland and overlap with ISSB
The Climate Ordinance enters into force on 1 January 2024, requiring large public-interest entities to make climate-related disclosures for the 2024 financial year. The ordinance reflects the Federal Council’s commitment to the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), including mandatory climate disclosure rules.
IFRS S1 defines general requirements on the types of information to disclose about sustainability-related risks and opportunities. Those are derived from the four TCFD pillars: Governance, Strategy, Risk management, and Metrics and targets.
IFRS S2 is the ISSB’s first topic-based standard and requires entities to provide information about their exposure to climate-related risks and opportunities. In Switzerland, climate-related matters have to be included in the financial reporting if they are material from a financial perspective.
Preparing for now and next
The sustainability-related reporting landscape is set to get more complex for all organizations in coming years. As companies prepare to meet the requirements of the Swiss Climate Ordinance, it’s a good time to consider their (future) exposure to other, international regulations. Companies should analyze now if, where and how standards like the new IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards will affect them, considering where they operate and whether they already report under IFRS.
Preparing to comply with new standards almost always demands a review and refresh of data, systems and process capabilities. Successful implementation relies on early and full engagement of internal stakeholders, while an effective communication strategy is also recommended to ensure external stakeholders benefit from the sustainability-related information.
Swiss and international stakeholders are increasingly demanding robust, reliable and relevant sustainability-related information. While overlap can be observed between ISSB and other sustainability regulations, there are also differences. Against this background, Swiss companies should review their own sustainability approach. A forward-looking view supports efficient systemic changes, allows synergies to be leveraged and enables flexibility amid regulatory shifts.
Guest contribution by EY
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