ISAR began to focus on the subject of environmental accounting and reporting in the late 1980s. In 1991, ISAR reached agreement on a number of items that could be reported by enterprises, in order to deal with relevant environmental issues. The Group´s thirteenth session in 1995 was devoted exclusively to the subject of environmental accounting. In 1999, at its seventeenth session, ISAR agreed that the Secretariat should "continue to work on environmental and financial accounting and disclosure to promote sustainability reporting."
To enable member States to gain a better understanding of accounting and reporting issues related to the environment; and to contribute to the harmonization of the approaches that member States are taking on environmental accounting and reporting.
Since the late 1980s, ISAR has conducted a number of research projects and ad hoc consultations relating to environmental accounting and reporting. In 2004, ISAR´s work in this area culminated in the publication of A Manual for the Preparers and Users of Eco-Efficiency Indicators
. An eco-efficiency indicator is the ratio between an environmental and a financial variable. The manual enables enterprises to provide information on environmental performance vis-à-vis financial performance in a systematic and consistent manner over periods of time.
The Eco-Efficiency Indicators have been adopted by Ciba Specialty Chemicals, and undergone thorough testing. The Secretariat is currently preparing an update to the manual on the basis of Ciba´s experience