Canada has submitted a bid to host the headquarters of the new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), a proposed group that would develop rules for how companies report on environmental, social and governance matters.
The ISSB is a creation of the U.K.-based IFRS Foundation, which manages the International Financial Reporting Standards used by Canadian companies that trade on public stock exchanges. The ISSB will create a global set of sustainability standards rather than continue with companies picking from among multiple existing frameworks for disclosing these issues.
Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, an industry body, has been calling for international standards. It has also been building a coalition for some time to make Canada the host country for the organization that will develop them.
CPA Canada has signed up major accounting firms, pension plans, regulators and large corporations for the effort, and they have committed to provide startup and operational funding if Canada wins the bidding.
The bidding group hasn’t identified where the office would be located if Canada is successful but six cities – Calgary, Mississauga, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver – have signed on as “supporters” of the effort. The Logic, an online publication, first reported the effort and said economic development groups in Montreal and Toronto are preparing bids.
The coalition has dubbed itself “the Canadian Champions for Global Sustainability Standards.”
As part of the bid, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote a letter to the IFRS Foundation promising “a significant ‘Welcome Fund’ to fully support the initial period of the ISSB’s operations. Consistent with the IFRS Foundation’s spirit of transparency and accountability, this financial support would be broad based with no controlling interest and sources fully disclosed.”
Ms. Freeland’s letter also did not suggest a specific city for the headquarters.
The letter did not say how much money is anticipated for the fund, and Perry Jensen, spokesperson for CPA Canada, said that is not being disclosed “at this time.”
The IFRS Foundation has not announced any list of finalists or competitor countries that Canada must top, and Mr. Jensen said, “At this time, we are not aware of any other offers of seed capital and/or requests to the IFRS Foundation to host the proposed ISSB.”
“Canada recognizes the importance of effective disclosures based on high-quality data in addressing climate change and nature degradation, improving opportunities for women, visible minorities, and other under-represented groups, and enhancing public and private sector governance,” Ms. Freeland wrote in her letter. “Canada is a reliable, multilateral partner dedicated to promoting sustainable outcomes that would be respectful of an organization whose objective is to develop global sustainability standards on behalf of over 140 member countries.”
The IFRS Foundation is expected to announce its decision at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will be held in Glasgow in November. The IFRS Foundation must still amend its constitution to allow for the creation of the ISSB.
Simon Fish, who runs the climate initiative at BMO Financial Group – a financial supporter of the effort – said in a statement that Canada has a reputation as an active backer of international institutions and has expertise in standard setting and sustainability reporting, climate change and climate-related disclosure.
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