Advancing Public Sector Sustainability Reporting: IPSASB Launches Global Consultation

While there has recently been significant progress towards the development of a global baseline for sustainability reporting in the private sector, public sector sustainability reporting has yet to move forward in the same way. According to a May 9, 2022, press release, “governments are significant in expenditure and employment terms in all jurisdictions, as well as in the global bond market. How and where they spend the money they raise through the taxes everyone pays will therefore be critical in successfully delivering the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and making meaningful progress on climate change. As a result of expected differences in focus and coverage compared with the private sector, global public sector sustainability reporting guidance will be required to bring the necessary transparency and comparability to government activities in this important area.”

In response to stakeholder demand, including from the World Bank, the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board® (IPSASB®) has launched a global consultation on developing a sustainability reporting framework for the public sector. To kick-off the discussion, the IPSASB has issued its Consultation Paper, Advancing Public Sector Sustainability Reporting. Comments are requested by September 9, 2022.

“The IPSASB has the experience, processes, and relationships to develop global public sector sustainability reporting guidance efficiently and effectively,” says Ian Carruthers, IPSASB Chair. “We are ready to take on this responsibility, and the consultation paper we released today outlines how we would tackle this critical work through collaboration with others, and building on our 25 years of standard setting experience.”

The aim of the public consultation process is to evaluate the demand from stakeholders for global public sector specific sustainability reporting guidance, as well as the degree of support for IPSASB developing such guidance, the priority areas for coverage, and how this might be approached.

Within this consultation paper, the IPSASB proposes to:

  • Serve as the standard setter for global public sector specific sustainability reporting guidance, drawing upon its experience, processes and global relationships.
  • Develop initial guidance focused on the topics of general disclosure requirements for sustainability-related information and climate-related disclosures by drawing on the initial work of the newly formed International Sustainability Standards Board in these areas.
  • Approach guidance development at an accelerated pace, with a potential for releasing initial guidance by the end of 2023.

To this end, strong stakeholder support and commitment are essential. The consultation paper lays out what the IPSASB believes is necessary to get started now, and the resources, including additional funding, required, to deliver public sector specific sustainability reporting guidance, in a timely manner.

For more, Visit the IPSASB’s website to access the Consultation Paper.