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UNCTAD marks 40 years of promoting sustainability reporting, honours innovation

UNCTAD marks 40 years of promoting sustainability reporting, honours innovation

25 October 2023

Stakeholders converged at the eighth World Investment Forum to advance the sustainability reporting agenda and recognize innovative initiatives.

© Shutterstock/Sutipond Somnam | Sustainability reporting by enterprises facilitates financial stability, international and domestic investment, social and economic progress.

UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) held its 40th session from 17 to 19 October at the World Investment Forum 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

ISAR is the United Nations focal point on accounting and corporate governance matters. It supports countries to implement international standards, codes and best practices to harmonize and improve the quality of enterprise reporting to facilitate financial stability, international and domestic investment, social and economic progress.

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Pedro Manuel Moreno lauded ISAR for its 40 years of service as an open forum for global harmonization of financial and sustainability reporting requirements.

“During that time, ISAR has taken a pioneering role on many occasions, influencing policymaking and standard setting at the highest levels,” Mr. Moreno said.

He underlined the importance of reliable and globally comparable disclosures on the financial and sustainability performance of enterprises, saying ISAR’s work brings enormous economic value.

60 countries represented

More than 300 participants from about 60 countries and representing international organizations, national policymakers, representatives of national professional bodies, investors, companies, academia and other stakeholders took part in the 40th ISAR meeting.

It included sessions on sustainability reporting, formalization of micro, small and medium enterprises and gender equality in the accounting profession.

The event also saw more stakeholders from Africa joining a regional partnership on sustainability reporting and those from Asia, the Gulf and Eurasian regions agreeing to establish one.

Germany donates $350,000 for sustainability reporting

Germany announced a donation of $350,000 for a pilot project to support the implementation of sustainability reporting standards in developing countries.

The project running from September 2023 to April 2024 will support Cameroon and Mexico to strengthen their sustainability reporting infrastructure to prepare for and adopt new standards on sustainability-related financial information and climate-related disclosures.

“This will come along with regional partnerships for the promotion of sustainability reporting in Africa and Latin America in order to maximize impact,” said Dorothea Schütz, deputy director-general at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

ISAR honours innovative initiatives

UNCTAD also presented the ISAR Honours 2023, which recognize innovative sustainability reporting. It received 70 applications from developing and developed countries, public and private sectors, non-governmental entities, as well as leading regional and international organizations.

The honourees in the national category were:

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India for the initiative “Sustainability Reporting Standards Board (SRSB)”, India.
  • Nairobi Securities Exchange, India for the initiative “Publication of ESG Disclosure Guidance Manual”, Kenya.
  • Alianza Empresarial para el Desarrollo, for the initiative “Sustainable Business Strategy and Governance”, Costa Rica.

Special nominations in the national category went to:

  • Family Business Network (FBN) Canada, for the initiative “Family Business for Sustainable Development”, Canada.
  • Chartered Governance and Accountancy Institute in Zimbabwe, for the initiative “Excellence in Corporate Governance Awards with Section B on Stakeholder Practices and Sustainability Reporting”, Zimbabwe.
  • Hong Kong ESG Reporting Awards Limited, for the initiative “Hong Kong ESG Reporting Awards”, China (Hong Kong).

The honourees in the international category were:

  • Global Reporting Initiative, for the initiative “Business Leadership Forum on Corporate Reporting as a Driver to Achieving the SDGs”.
  • The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, for the initiative “Reporting of non-financial risks and opportunities and the linkage to the business model”.
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, for the initiative “Integrated Planning and Reporting Toolkit”

Special nominations in the international category went to:

  • Association of Eurasian Institutes of Certified Public Accountants, for the initiative “Eurasian Regional Initiative for the Development of Educational and Certification Programs in Sustainability Accounting and Reporting (ERIEC)”.
  • Green Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, for the initiative “GRESB Assessments & Benchmarks”.
  • The Good Governance Academy, for the initiative “The ESG Exchange”.