Sustainability/environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting has quickly become a matter of global importance. A broad range of interested and affected parties are calling on organizations to be transparent about sustainability/ESG matters. Globally, organizations are shifting from voluntary reporting to reporting in accordance with requirements mandated by jurisdictions. As organizations expand their reporting on sustainability matters, interested and affected parties are increasingly demanding assurance on this information.
The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) is currently working on a project to develop an overarching standard for assurance on sustainability reporting, proposed International Standard on Sustainability Assurance (ISSA) 5000, General Requirements for Sustainability Assurance Engagements. In its development, the IAASB has leveraged its existing assurance standards on non-financial information (International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000 is equivalent to Canadian Standard on Assurance Engagements (CSAE) 3000), extended external reporting (EER) non-authoritative guidance, and the ISAs, that can be used globally by all assurance professionals. See the IAASB project page for the status of its activities.
The AASB is monitoring the IAASB’s progress on this initiative, including providing feedback on the IAASB’s meeting agenda papers and has approved a project to adopt ISSA 5000 concurrently in Canada as Canadian Standard on Sustainability Assurance (CSSA) 5000, General Requirements for Sustainability Assurance Engagements. The AASB’s Sustainability Assurance Committee supports the AASB in reviewing and responding to materials issued by the IAASB.
In addition, over the last few years, the AASB has undertaken several activities to support assurance in this area, including:
- conducting outreach activities on the challenges practitioners face when providing assurance over sustainability information (both stand-alone reporting and reporting integrated within the financial statements);
- listening and contributing to international deliberations on this topic, including participating in National Standard Setters (NSS) discussions;
- establishing the Extended External Reporting Assurance Advisory Group to support the AASB in reviewing and responding to materials issued by the IAASB;
- issuing non-authoritative guidance on applying CSAE 3000 to sustainability and other extended external reporting assurance engagements; and
- developing a set of frequently asked questions to address common questions on sustainability assurance and help practitioners navigate the AASB’s non-authoritative guidance.
Canadian practitioners are encouraged to follow the progress of this initiative and provide feedback, as necessary.
Learn more about guidance on sustainability and other EER assurance engagements in Canada.