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Navigating IFRS sustainability disclosure: IFRS audit report format

March 14, 2024

Table of Contents

The International Sustainability Standards Board launched the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Sustainability Disclosure Standards to improve sustainability reporting among entities. This includes IFRS S1 for broad disclosures and IFRS S2 for climate-specific details, incorporating the TCFD guidelines covering governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics.

These standards highlight a company's commitment to openness and sustainability. It also strategically prepares them to easily transition to future regulations that reflect the global shift towards obligatory sustainability reporting.

This guide will detail each IFRS audit report format component to aid entities in integrating sustainability into their reporting practices.

What Are International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)?

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are global accounting rules created to make financial statements consistent, transparent, and comparable worldwide. They apply to public companies who are undertaking financial reporting and promote a universal language for economic analysis.

The London-based International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) issued these standards, which replaced the older International Accounting Standards (IAS) in 2001.

The MDPI study reveals that adopting International Financial Reporting Standards enhances accounting quality, especially in common law countries like the UK and Australia, offering robust investor protection. This indicates IFRS's role in enhancing accounting standards over time.

History of sustainability reporting

 IFRS helps to unify accounting practices across borders. This makes it easier for companies, investors, and regulators to understand financial statements, regardless of where a company operates. This global standardization supports investment and financial transparency for economic growth and investor confidence.

However, it was only in the 1990s that concerns about the environment and sustainability started becoming a key topic of discussion in both a global context and within individual businesses. International conferences, such as the UN Summit in 1992, played an influential role in the development of the standards, protocols and frameworks relating to sustainability that we use today. The development of the idea around ‘the triple bottom line’ which encourages companies to balance their social ,environmental and economic initiatives brought sustainability into the corporate world and led to the development of what we now know as ESG reporting.

sustainable energy

IFRS Audit report format and sustainability reporting

As sustainability reporting has progressed, multiple frameworks and standards have been published to help companies with their ESG disclosures. As such, the scope of financial reporting now extends to sustainability reporting, necessitating companies to consider their ESG impacts alongside traditional financial metrics.

This combined approach aids stakeholders in comprehending both a company's fiscal health and commitment to sustainability. Thus, it enhances the relevance of the IFRS audit report format and aligns financial and sustainability reporting.

A financial audit report document typically includes key requirements that assess the company's financial health.

● Statement of financial position

● Statement of comprehensive income

● Statement of changes in equity

● Statement of cash flows

● Summary of accounting policies

However, following the establishment of the ISSB (as part of the IFRS foundation) we have seen a significant development in financial reporting. Their new standards published in June 2023, (IFRS S1 and IFRS S2),add sustainability to the financial narrative. This is a clear move towards recognizing the importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in assessing a company's long-term success. This approach enhances transparency and allows stakeholders to gauge a company's sustainability efforts alongside its financial performance.

Overview of IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 

 The rollout of IFRS S1 and S2 by the ISSB represents a significant change in global sustainability reporting. These standards aim to regulate how companies reveal sustainability-related financial information.They aim for transparent, consistent, and high quality sustainabilityreporting. This brings such disclosures up to the same level of significance as traditional financial reports. Let's get into the details:

IFRS S1: General requirements for disclosure of sustainability-related financial information

IFRS S1 allows organizations to report on sustainability issues comprehensively, covering risks and opportunities over both the short and long term. It highlights how these factors influence financial results. The standard embeds sustainability deep within financial disclosure.

● It demands thorough reports on risks and opportunities related to sustainability.

● IFRS S1 integrates sustainability into business strategies and financial predictions.

● It seeks to increase clarity and responsibility towards stakeholders and investors.

Example: A company moving to use sustainably sourced materials reduces supply chain risks and shows commitment to ethical practices.

● IFRS S1 minimizes potential operational challenges through sustainable practices.

● It boosts the company's image and strengthens consumer trust.

● It leads to better financial outcomes through reduced costs and improved efficiencies.

IFRS S2: Climate-related disclosures

IFRS S2 focuses on the financial effects of climate change. It mandates companies to reveal their approaches to managing the risks and seizing the opportunities arising from worldwide climate change.

● IFRS S2 details physical and transitional risks related to climate change.

● It outlines the company's climate-related strategy and action plans in response to climate related risks.

● It requires scenario analysis to project future impacts on the business.

● It integrates and builds on the recommendations of the TCFD.

Example: A utility company reports on shifting to renewable energy. It explains the investment needed, the savings from less fossil fuel use, and the chance for income from green energy services.

● IFRS S2 emphasizes renewable energy investment as a strategy for future security.

● It shows potential for cost reductions and new income sources.

● It increases investor trust by demonstrating readiness for policy shifts.

IFRSS1 and S2 create a consistent framework for reporting sustainability and climate issues. They highlight how critical these factors are in assessing a company's financial health and strategic planning. Companies that follow these standards meet global norms and attract investors focused on environmental and social responsibility.

Advantages of reporting IFRS S1 and S2

Implementing IFRS S1 and S2 standards does more than sync with global sustainability initiatives. It also enhances your company's appeal to investors, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies. Here are the benefits:

Increases investor appeal: Adopting IFRS S1 and S2 standards enhances your company's sustainability reporting. Your company becomes more appealing with precise, uniform reports on sustainability efforts.

Boosts your company's image: You make your business more attractive to investors with clear, consistent sustainability reports. Transparency and commitment to sustainability draw more investment interest.  

Enhances risk management: Early identification of sustainability-related risks through IFRS S1 and S2 reporting enables effective planning and mitigation. It protects against future uncertainties.

Facilitates informed strategic choices: Detailed insights from sustainability reports inform strategic planning. This alignment with sustainability objectives paves the way for long-term success.

Strengthens stakeholder connections: Openness about sustainability efforts builds trust with critical groups like customers, employees, and regulators. This trust encourages more affirmative relationships.

Supports regulatory compliance: As regulations around sustainability reporting tighten, adhering to IFRS S1 and S2 positions your company ahead of compliance requirements and avoids potential penalties.

As businesses worldwide strive for transparency and sustainability, these standards are critical tools to align financial reporting with global sustainability goals. They strengthen investor trust and corporate reputation and sharpen risk management and decision-making. With enhanced transparency, companies can promote more robust relationships with all stakeholders and stay ahead in regulatory compliance.

When it comes to compiling your sustainability audit reports, Zuno Carbon offers an excellent solution. Our platform supports sustainability reporting through comprehensive frameworks for disclosures and carbon accounting. We are an end-to-end ESG solution that helps companies with sustainability disclosures as well as wider carbon accounting. Book a demo with our team to streamline your reporting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the IFRS checklist?

The IFRS checklist guides companies in verifying that their financial reports meet the International Financial Reporting Standards. It outlines all IFRS requirements and aids in accurate, compliant financial disclosures. This checklist is essential for auditors and finance teams preparing for audits or reviewing financial statements.

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