SASB Codifies First-Ever Industry-Specific Sustainability Accounting Standards
In a ceremony at the London Stock Exchange, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) announced they have published the world’s first set of industry-specific sustainability accounting standards covering financially material issues.
Publishing the standards ushers in a new era for global capital markets in which businesses can better identify and communicate significant opportunities for sustaining long-term value creation. Covering 77 industries, the standards were approved on Oct. 16, 2018, by a vote of the Standards Board after six years of research and extensive market consultation, including engagement with many of the world’s most prominent investors and businesses from all sectors.
By addressing the subset of sustainability factors most likely to have financially material impacts on the typical company in an industry, SASB’s industry-specific standards help investors and companies make more informed decisions.
“What makes SASB standards unique in the marketplace is their focus on industry specificity and financial materiality, universal concepts that are important for investors and businesses around the world,” said SASB Chair Jeffrey Hales, PhD. “This is an important milestone for global capital markets. Companies and investors around the world now have codified, market-based standards for measuring, managing, and reporting on sustainability factors that drive value and affect financial performance.”
Industry leaders - including GM, Merck, Nike, Kellogg’s, JetBlue, CBRE, Diageo, Groupe PSA, Schneider Electric, Host Hotels and NRG Energy - have begun using the SASB standards. Meanwhile, interest and use continue to expand among investors, as illustrated by participation in SASB’s Investor Advisory Group (IAG) and the SASB Alliance, which collectively include 56 members from North America, the UK, Europe and Australia with collective assets under management valued at $29 trillion.
SASB standards support robust, investor-grade reporting in a range of communications channels, including financial filings, sustainability reports, annual reports, and corporate websites. As corporate users have demonstrated, SASB standards can be used alongside other sustainability frameworks. For example, the standards are well-aligned with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and are complementary to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
“SASB’s newly codified standards will help companies around the world focus on the sustainability issues that matter to financial performance and to better communicate their performance on these issues to global investors in a decision-useful and comparable way,” said Robert Herz, SASB Foundation Board Member and former Chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
Moving forward, SASB will follow a regular, multi-year cycle of standards updates to ensure the standards remain relevant and responsive to evolving market needs. SASB’s ongoing due process, similar to its work thus far, will involve internal research, external outreach, public comment, and transparent oversight. SASB will further engage markets through its Standards Advisory Group (SAG) initiative, which consists of standing committees of volunteer industry experts from leading companies, financial institutions, and third parties who will provide feedback on standards development, maintenance, implementation, and use.
Through these efforts, SASB aims to help market participants unlock the full potential of more consistent, comparable, and reliable sustainability-related information. By modernizing corporate accounting and reporting for the 21st century, SASB standards enable more stable, resilient markets.
Download any of the 77 industry-specific standards at www.SASB.org.