23 February 2024

Comment: A Pythonesque take on IASB/ISSB joint meeting

It is with great expectations that we tuned in the first ever joint meeting between the two boards of the IFRS Foundation – the IASB and the ISSB. After all, for all those that have followed the space of sustainability reporting for a while the end game was never about sustainability reporting standards alone, but corporate reporting as a whole. 

So here we were, popcorn in hand, ready for the 1st episode of the geeky series on corporate reporting in its fullest form….

Truth be told, we started to fall asleep, until Bruce Mackenzie of house IASB uttered the magic words “integration in reporting is the Holy Grail” – and that little sentence unleashed Corporate Disclosures full realm of poetic licencing.

It is hard to tell what was true and what was not, but here is what we saw and heard.

Board member: I would like to thank the staff for a very thorough paper…

Other board member: I thank my colleague for thanking the staff, and would like to thank them even more than he did for a very good paper…

And another board member: I want to thank my colleagues for thanking my colleague for thanking the staff, and I would like to add to that that I would like to thank the staff myself because….

[Break in narrative: The narrator fully acknowledges the hard work by the IFRS staff, and understands that this profusion of thanks from the board members - while annoying some viewers, is welcomed for others in need of a coffee or a toilet break. It is also very much welcomed by the staff, with some members considering themselves "overworked", and in "a similar space" to some of their European peers - but without the headllines…]

But back to the movie. Lady Guinevere (Sue Lloyd) - once of House IASB with Sir Lancelot (Andrea Berkow) and now fully at the service of House ISSB with King Arthur (Emmanuel Faber), who has freed Excalibur (sustainability) from the rock of standards - is taking the stage.

“It is important to note that when we talk about integration in reporting we talk about integrated reporting with a small ‘i’ and a small ‘r’ and not Integrated Reporting as in the framework,” Lloyd said.

At the back of the room, staff member in doubt: “what?”

Other staff member: “she said it is integrated reporting not Integrated Reporting”

“Ain’t that the same thing?

“No, one is small cap the other one is upper cap

“And? Isn’t our Holy Grail integrated reporting?

“Yes, but not the Upper cap one?

“What is the other one then?

“We don’t know, that is what we are searching for…

“But if we already have one, why we are searching for one we don’t have?

“Would be too easy I guess…

“Man, if they think I’m going to go halfway across the world give my blood and sweat to find something we already have on our shelf, they are in for a surprise…. Give me that framework now – Iintegrated Rreporting Fframework - there I’ve fixed the problem!! Ohe my good Lords of the Square table, I have found the Holy Grail!

“Shut up… you’re going to get us killed… listen… the Knights of the Square Table now seem to be saying we first need to find connectivity, and that will lead us to integration in reporting


“Yes connectivity…

“and what is that?

“What do I know?

Yes-man staff member: “The path, stupid. The path to integration in reporting

“My friend, the path to integration in reporting is out of this room down the corridor, on the right, in our library, and on the top shelf behind some IFRS standards. You’ll find a manual called Integrated Reporting Framework, and next to it one equally important that says Integrated Reporting Thinking

“Wait… listen…

“I can’t, they keep thanking me, I don’t like the spotlight

Here comes Lady Elizabeth Seeger, formerly of House SASB, now of House ISSB: “If the boards are fully committed to connectivity and fully committed to nurturing the Integrated Reporting Framework community, what's actually left? What's the gap? If we are actually committed to and executing on connectivity, and actually committed to and executing on supporting the Integrated Reporting Framework, do most of the priority comments that we got through this feedback go away? Are they're already addressed? Do we actually have much of a project left as a result of that?

The doubter: “I’m going to give her the copy of the found Holy Grail – the world renowned – Iintegrated Rreporting Fframework…. MY LADY, MY LADY…  

“Shut up, sit back down you foul, and listen instead! Our King is about to speak

King Faber: “I would just like to clarify one thing. There is no other place other than here, in this room, that the connectivity that is needed by investors can take place…

The doubter: “That is an 'helpful' comment for relationships with our ‘friends’ outside… Plus if the solution is not in the room, we’ll have to get out at some point…

Other staff member: “And once out we’ll need help… It’s not a kind world out there, the impact materiality fanatics with whom we have fragile peace agreements are already knocking at the door, without mentioning the double materiality barbarians roaming the plains with their 12 standards – vile rumours say they have over 1,000 data points at their disposal…

“I’m telling you the solution is on that bloody shelf down the corridor… This man is not the Messiah, he's a very….

The End

We very much look forward to the next joint meeting!