Canadian accounting bodies approve creation of sustainability standards board

New body to provide Canadian voice on development of ISSB standards.

Canada’s accounting and auditing supervisors have approved the formation of a Canadian Sustainability Standards Board (CSSB) to bring a local perspective to the developments of international standards. 

The formation of such a body, announced yesterday, was one of the recommendations of the committee set up by Canada’s Accounting Standards Oversight Council (AcSOC) and Auditing and Assurance Standards Oversight Council (AASOC) to help them assess the role of sustainability standards. 

The Independent Review Committee on Standard Setting in Canada (IRCSS), which was launched last year, includes well-known figures such as Sustainalytics CEO Michael Jantzi and Stéphanie Lachance, former head of responsible investment at C$169 billion (€114 billion) manager PSP Investments.   

In a consultation document put out in December, the IRCSS argued that a Canadian sustainability standards body was needed to ensure that the country’s stakeholders were heard during the development of international corporate sustainability standards, such as the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). Final recommendations from the committee are to be published in the summer.  

The ISSB, which was launched by accounting standards body IFRS Foundation in November, put out its draft standards for consultation in March with a deadline of 29 July. The aim of the ISSB is to develop “a global baseline” sustainability disclosure regime for corporations.   

“The CSSB will work in lockstep with the International Sustainability Standards Board to develop and support the adoption of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards – ensuring that the Canadian perspective is part of international decision-making,” said Kevin Nye, chair of AASOC. 

Earlier this month, the four inaugural members of the ISSB were named, including Verity Chegar, the former BlackRock director of ESG integration, who joined CalSTRS in 2021 to lead the Californian public pension giant’s policy engagement on sustainable investment and stewardship.  

ISSB will have an office in Montreal as part of its “multi-location presence”, which includes dedicated sites across all regions – the Americas, Asia-Oceania and EMEA.   

“In light of the momentum in this space, the committee felt it important to fast-track our recommendation to establish the CSSB to the oversight councils now,” said Edward Waitzer, IRCSS chair. “We are very pleased with the approval to establish a CSSB and we look forward to issuing our additional recommendations to ensure Canadian standard-setting continues to serve the public interest.” 

The CSSB is expected to be fully operational by April 2023. Work is beginning on establishing the recruitment process for a chair and board members.