Independent assurance enhances credibility and trust in the sustainability information that companies disclose in their corporate reports.
Despite recent initiatives, frameworks and standards from various assurance standards setters, there’s still no global consensus on a set of overarching Generally Accepted Assurance Standards for Sustainability – which means, it’s tough to tell how much we can trust external sustainability assurance engagements.
The principle outcome of our Assurance 2.0 project is to help more companies subject their sustainability information to external assurance in accordance with international standards.
Assurance of sustainability information is fragmented. Global assurance experts at the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) agree with our member companies that there needs to be more consistency if we’re to trust and rely on external sustainability assurance.
External assurance needs sustainability data collected by companies to be robust and subject to the same sorts of internal controls that ensure the quality of financial information. In other words, if sustainability information is intended to be used for decision-making it should be at “financial grade.”
External assurance is an increasingly important element in corporate reporting. It provides external validation for disclosures and can help give capital providers confidence in making and assessing resource allocation decisions. Financial grade data can also guide internal decision making. Guidance on assurance will help our member companies obtain external assurance that meet these needs.
Building on work with members and the Assurance Working Group, we’re exploring next steps for strengthening process and outcomes of sustainability assurance. Assurance 2.0 will help companies generate value through robust internal controls and obtaining external assurance on their sustainability disclosures.
The project includes three work streams that address: assurance challenges for companies; understanding the sustainability assurance information investors need; and, in collaboration with IAASB, providing guidance for assurance providers.