Introductory remarks delivered by Tjeerd Krumpelman, global head of advisory, reporting & engagement at ABN Amro Bank, during the European Parliament audition of candidates for the position of chair of EFRAG's Sustainability Reporting Board.
Personally, I am convinced that high quality, comparable, transparent sustainability disclosures can really contribute to the much needed and urgent shift to a more sustainable society. I feel that the momentum is here for ambitious sustainability reporting standards. There is a global movement on the same topic and Europe has the opportunity to take the lead, set the tone, set the ambition, and support others in the same direction.
My background is that, for the last 10 years or so, I have been active in the broad sustainability space, with a specific focus and responsibility on reporting. I have guided the development of ABN Amro's reporting on sustainability, on human rights and on impact and seen firsthand how good, innovative and transparent disclosures can support, improve and drive board decisions on sustainability.
We strive for continuous improvement in our non-financial disclosures and on our assurance. For example, we were the first in the financial sector to publish a Human Rights Report in 2016. The first with an impact report and one of the first to adopt the 'core and more concept', as described earlier by Accountancy Europe.
Our first integrated report in 2015 was definitely not the best or most concise integrated report. It was almost 500 pages. But since then, we have tried to continuously improve and adopt new and better standards. I've seen these developments firsthand and I was able to link these developments to our strategic developments and choices as a company and for our board.
I'm also one of the founders of the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials. Our goal, initially, was to simply develop a carbon accounting methodology for a few Dutch financial institutions. The methodologies we developed were appreciated by the global financial sector, by investors, by regulators, and by NGOs. We now have close to 300 participants around the world using PCAF for their carbon disclosures. The methodology is open source and has been developed through intensive and global stakeholder consultations. It has been improved by international standards, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and is referenced in TCFD frameworks and in the current SEC proposals.
I've also been involved, and I am still involved, with the former International Integrated Reporting Council, now called Value Reporting Foundation and, as of next month, it will be called the IFRS Foundation. In 2018, we brought together a group of around 40 companies from around the world to research the concept of embedding sustainability in companies' thinking and strategy. I've had the privilege of chairing this network and this group of companies. We have conducted research, together with leading universities, into the success factors and the importance of integrated thinking and how this can be demonstrated through excellent non-financial sustainability related disclosures.
I'm sure you're all aware that these developments on sustainability reporting and regulations are numerous. Luckily, there seems to be an opening for global collaboration and some degree of convergence. Stakeholders are longing for alignment, asking for comparability, which is not the same as one standard, but differences in approach need to be crystal clear. As a practitioner, I have seen firsthand how differences in standards can lead to confusing disclosures. Where standards can work is from a common foundation and shared terminology that will serve clarity, predictability, comparability, and, ultimately, greater quality of disclosures for both the companies and for the users of the reporting.
Europe, at the same time, can demonstrate its leadership by also advancing more ambitious disclosures across the 'E', the 'S' and the 'G' domains, in line with EU legislations and the policy objectives. And, as mentioned, the planet is also demanding more ambitious sustainability disclosures to support changes into more sustainable business practices.
I'm very aware of the fact that it will be challenging for smaller companies. They are less experienced in sustainability reporting so it will be challenging for them to adopt an ambitious set of new guidelines all at once. At the same time, we need these ambitious guidelines to support transparency and the steering of companies to more sustainable practices.
I am also aware that all sustainability related topics, environmental, social and governance, are strongly interlinked. We have seen this with development of the Sustainable Development Goals and the linkages and the dependent dependencies between all 17 of them. The just transition, as it is now called, is another example of how these topics are and must be related.
As you can see from my resume, I have extensive experience in the field of sustainability reporting and standards setting. I enjoy leading by example and I believe strongly in the importance of a collaborative and consultative process in achieving the change we need.
As chair of the board, I would take it as my responsibility to support and listen to the experts on the board and in the Technical Expert Group and to build consensus around solutions that can gain broader support across all stakeholder groups. I would also see it as my role to consult with parliament and other key EU institutions and bodies, as well as engaging with external stakeholders, both to provide transparency into the board's ongoing work and to ensure a full understanding of the primary aims and concerns of the different stakeholders, such that the board can factor them into its work. I believe that by listening carefully collaborating and stewarding a process towards consensus, we can build better frameworks and standards and better ensure their effective implementation.
So in closing, I am keen to bring my long experience in sustainability and standard setting and the practical experience on reporting to this role. And I will just repeat my opening remark, I am convinced that high quality comparable transparent sustainability disclosures can really contribute to the much needed and urgent shift to a more sustainable society.
This is an edited transcript of the remarks by Corporate Disclosures, any inaccuracies or discrepancies vis-à-vis the spoken speech is our responsibility.