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The Profession

‘It’s time to help shape the future of sustainability standards’

Now that the ISSB has released its first set of proposals for comment, it is critical for Canadian stakeholders to weigh in to ensure the proposed standards meet their needs and expectations

A man uses a tablet in a greenhouseThe ISSB has issued drafts for a general disclosure requirements standard and a climate disclosure standard (Getty Images/Halfpoint Images)

It’s been a busy month for the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) as it releases its first two proposals for comment and gears up to open its centre in Montreal in late June.

Here is the latest on the board’s activities.


From April 5 to 8, representatives from the ISSB and the IFRS Foundation gathered in Canada for a series of meetings with executive leaders from the Canadian Champions for Global Sustainability Standards (a coalition of private and public institutions that backed Canada’s bid to host the ISSB), and other key stakeholders.

The week culminated with the signing of a private sector memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a centre for the ISSB in Montreal. CPA Canada chair Richard Olfert also sat down with Emmanuel Faber, chair of the ISSB, to discuss the appeal of Canada and Montreal to the ISSB, the value of the meetings with Canadian stakeholders and the significance of the ISSB’s work toward global standards.

“I am delighted the trustees chose Montreal as a key location for the ISSB,” said Faber. “It provides a valuable sustainability ecosystem to support our future work and will provide an excellent base.”


On March 31, 2022, the ISSB issued two proposed standards—a general disclosure requirements standard and climate disclosure standard—with comments requested by July 29, 2022.

“Even though it doesn’t yet have a full board in place, the ISSB has been working at a rapid pace and is delivering on its promise to produce standards in a timely manner,” says Rosemary McGuire, director of external reporting and capital markets at CPA Canada. “It has taken advantage of the extensive work done by leading organizations in sustainability reporting and mobilized a series of advisory committees and working groups to give it a running start in developing its initial set of standards for public consultation.”

The general disclosure requirements exposure draft sets out the overall requirements for disclosing sustainability-related financial information in order to provide primary users with a complete set of sustainability-related financial disclosures. Meanwhile, the climate exposure draft sets out the requirements for identifying, measuring and disclosing climate-related risks and opportunities.

The ISSB’s intention is to deliver a “comprehensive global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards.” Under this approach, standards issued by the ISSB will provide a globally consistent and comparable reporting baseline, while also making it possible to include jurisdiction-specific requirements.

The ISSB will review feedback received on the proposed standards in the second half of 2022 and aims to finalize the requirements by the end of the year. In the meantime, make your own mark on the future of sustainability standard setting by commenting on the draft proposals by July 29, 2022.


The ISSB’s proposals are also of interest to the Canadian Securities Administrators, which recently completed the comment period for their own climate disclosure consultation. While similar in some respects to the ISSB proposals, it is also different. It drew 131 comment letters.

As CSA Chair Louis Morisset points out, the CSA had been intending to review the comments on its proposal with a view to possibly finalizing its requirements by the end of the year. However, now that the ISSB has issued its drafts, these are likely to change the timeline and course of the CSA’s review. “We were among the first regulators in the world to propose climate-related disclosure in October 2021, but things have been moving quickly since then. We now need to think of the best way to incorporate these new proposals into our thinking process here,” he says.

Morisset adds that the SEC has also come out recently with proposals that need to be considered. “The Canadian and U.S. markets are quite interconnected,” he says. “So, we definitely need to keep the SEC proposals in mind.”

Whatever decisions the CSA ultimately makes, Morisset stresses that there will be changes to its initial proposal. “We definitely want to be in a position to announce our final requirements after our next consultation,” he says. “For that reason, we may want to wait until the SEC and ISSB proposals are finalized before moving forward.”


As a further boost for the ISSB and global sustainability standards, the 2022 federal budget pledged $8 million over three years to support the launch of the Montreal centre.

The budget also noted that that the federal government is looking at climate disclosures for federally regulated financial institutions and that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions will consult on climate disclosure guidelines this year.

With so much support for the ISSB and global standards in place, McGuire says it’s important for Canadian organizations to prepare for the future now.

“We consistently hear that alignment with international standards is important for Canada—if this is the future direction of travel, it is therefore critical for Canadian stakeholders to weigh in on the ISSB’s initial standards to ensure they meet their needs and expectations and are capable of consistent application. These initial standards will set the tone for all future sustainability disclosure standards to come.”


Watch the interview in which CPA Canada chair Richard Olfert talks to ISSB chair Emmanuel Faber about the new standards and the appeal of Canada to the ISSB.

To learn more about the draft proposals, attend CPA Canada’s webinar on May 16 and be sure to attend the ESG annual symposium on June 2, which will feature a session on sustainability standard setting.

For more on the climate-related proposals in the federal budget, see Federal budget 2022: Climate change and economic growth in focus. Plus, check out CPA Canada’s sustainability for the future page for regular updates.