Original: English
December 2018
This document has not been formally edited.

In this issue:

News briefs:

UNCTAD-ISAR to hold its thirty-sixth session in Geneva

UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) will hold its thirty-sixth session at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 30 October to 1 November 2019. The session will deal with two main agenda items:

  • Enhancing the comparability of sustainability reporting: Selection of core indicators for entity reporting on the contribution towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals; and
  • Review of current developments in international standards of accounting and reporting in the public and private sectors.

Further information will be forthcoming soon.

Record number of participants at World Investment Forum 2018

The World Investment Forum 2018 which took place in Geneva from 22 to 26 October 2018 drew a record number of participants. Some 6,000 participants from 160 countries representing the public and private sectors as well as civil society and academia took part in the biennial event organized by the Division on Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD. The Forum featured over 70 events many of which were jointly organized with partner institutions. For further information click here.

Thirty-fifth session of ISAR held in Geneva

The thirty fifth session of ISAR took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 24 to 26 October 2018. More than 300 experts from about 80 countries registered for the session. In accordance with the agreement reached among member States at the thirty-fourth session, the thirty-fifth session of ISAR dealt with the following main agenda items:

  • Enhancing comparability of sustainability reporting: Selection of core indicators for entity reporting on the contribution towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals; and
  • Issues of practical implementation of international standards of accounting and reporting in the public and private sectors.

Two issues notes (ISAR85 and ISAR86) on the main agenda items prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat and a series of panel discussions, facilitated delegates’ consideration of the key issues.

With respect to the first main agenda item, the Group of Experts requested the UNCTAD secretariat to finalize its work on the guidance on core Sustainable Development Goal indicators for enterprise reporting in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal monitoring framework, and to conduct pilot-testing of the core indicators at the country level and by supporting member States through capacity-building initiatives in this area.

Furthermore, the session called on the UNCTAD secretariat to continue its work in developing metadata guidance for indicator 12.6.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals, “number of companies publishing sustainability reports”, in coordination with the United Nations Environment Programme, and to submit a proposal for indicator reclassification to the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators.

With respect to the second main agenda item, the Group of Experts requested the UNCTAD secretariat to continue facilitating sharing of good practices on the implementation of international standards of accounting and reporting in the public and private sectors, in particular with a view to assisting developing countries and countries with economies in transition in their capacity-building efforts towards high-quality and globally comparable enterprise reporting.

Under other business, the session received a progress report on the implementation of the UNCTAD-ISAR Accounting Development Tool in Belarus.

Additional information, including photos taken at the session can be accessed by clicking here.

UNCTAD organized workshop on blockchain technology and accounting and reporting for cryptocurrencies

The UNCTAD ISAR Workshop which was held on 22 October 2018 focused on emerging issues in the area of blockchain technology, digitalization and cryptocurrencies. 206 participants from 60 countries registered for the Workshop. It featured representatives from accounting firms, the accountancy profession, standard setters, and the investors’ community.

The Workshop highlighted a number of regulatory, institutional and capacity building challenges and opportunities related to the use and effect of blockchain technology. It underscored the increasing number of transactions involving cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), and the lack of clarity in the financial reporting standards leading to a lack of consistency in how countries account for them. Regulators need to pay attention to associated risks such as scams, volatility, money laundering and financing of terrorism. Therefore, addressing the issues posed by digital developments, including by sharing good practices and lessons learned, is necessary to help stakeholders, regulators, preparers and users of the reports in their efforts towards attaining high quality and reliable reporting. The outcomes of the workshop were presented to the thirty-fifth session of ISAR at the High Level Panel as one of main trends in current accounting and reporting agenda. Further information can be accessed by clicking here.

ISAR honours initiative launched

On the occasion of the thirty-fifth session of ISAR, a new initiative called “ISAR Honours” was launched. The initiative aims to support efforts on enhancing the quality of companies’ reporting on sustainability issues, and its usefulness for Member States for monitoring of the private sector’s contribution towards the implementation of the SDGs. ISAR Honours were presented to policy, institutional or capacity-building initiatives that facilitate improvements in companies’ reporting on sustainability issues. Initiatives were assessed by a Review Committee, established by the UNCTAD secretariat, consisting of several distinguished international experts in the area of sustainability and SDG reporting. The selection process was guided by specific criteria with regard to the contribution of the initiative to harmonization, quality, consensus and capacity building on sustainability and the SDG reporting. Further information can be accessed by clicking here.

UN Development Account Project to support enterprise reporting on SDGs

On the side of the thirty-fifth session of ISAR, the UNCTAD secretariat organized a briefing for beneficiary countries (Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, and South Africa) of the Development Account 11th Tranche Project entitled Enabling Policy Frameworks for enterprise sustainability and SDG reporting in Africa and Latin America on the scope and activities of the project. The main objective of this project is to strengthen the capacities of governments to measure and monitor the private sector contribution to the 2030 Agenda, in particular on indicator 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle. ISAR will review progress on implementation of this project at its thirty-sixth session in 2019.

Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDGs Indicators held eighth meeting

The development of Sustainable Development Goals indicators takes place under the umbrella of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) of the United Nations that was established by the Statistical Commission at its 46th session to monitor implementation of the Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Among 230 indicators, one indicator that is directly relevant to agenda on accounting and reporting is the SDG 12.6.1 “number of companies publishing sustainability reports”. The IAEG currently classifies SDG indicator 12.6.1 as Tier III since it does not yet have an internationally recognized measurement methodology. Development of such methodology and the metadata guidance for this indicator is under the joint custodianship of two UN agencies: UNCTAD and UN Environment, who are also tasked with an overseeing the 12.6.1 data collection and reporting process up to 2030.
In this capacity UNCTAD participated in the Plenary Session of the Eighth Meeting of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators that was held in Stockholm, Sweden on 6 – 8 November 2018. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the progress made by custodian agencies on reclassification of Tier III indicators under their responsibility, and to share experiences in this area. UNCTAD and UN Environment updated the IAEG Secretariat on its work on the metadata guidance on the indicator 12.6.1. UNCTAD also provided feedback on the ISAR 35th session discussions on its Guidance on Core Indicators (GCI) developed by UNCTAD as a tool to support implementation of the metadata 12.6.1 by suggesting a set of a limited number of core indicators for companies to provide a baseline reporting on key aspects of their SDG-related performance and impacts in a consistent and comparable manner, which could also inform the needs of national statistical agencies on collecting data to assess the private sector contribution to the SDG implementation. To achieve the latter, the core indicators are aligned with relevant SDG macro indicators in such critical areas as rational use of water, energy, air, generation of waste; social issues and development of human resources; gender equality and good governance. For the next steps, co-custodians are preparing documents required for the SDG 12.6.1 reclassification to a Tier II, including updated progress report, the final version of the 12.6.1 metadata guidance and measurement methodology, and feedback from selected pilot tests of the use of the metadata guidance, as well as on application of the GCI to assist with the metadata implementation.

For more details please refer to the metadata guidance for the SDG indicator 12.6.1: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/tierIII-indicators/files/Tier3-12-06-01.pdf

News briefs

ESMA publishes priorities for examining 2018 financial statements

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published the priorities that European enforcers will particularly consider when examining 2018 financial statements of listed companies. The priorities include the application of IFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers and IFRS 9 Financial Instruments, for the first-time in the 2018 IFRS financial statements; and disclosure on the implementation and expected impact of IFRS 16 Leases coming into force in 2019.

Further information on this news item can be accessed by clicking here.

The Initiative Accounting for Sustainability held 2018 Summit

Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) held its 2018 Summit at St. James’s Palace from 20 to 21 November 2018. UNCTAD participated in this event which brought together global leaders from the accounting and finance community to reflect back on progress made, as well as look forward to key trends that will shape the future and actions necessary to respond to risks. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The Governor of the Bank of England – Mr. Mark Carney addressed participants at the event. Further information on the Summit can be accessed by clicking here.

IASB proposes to extend implementation date for IFRS 17

At its November meeting, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) proposed to defer the implementation date for International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17, Insurance Contracts by one year to January 2022. Further information on this item can be accessed by clicking here.

Government use of accrual accounting set to increase

A study conducted by the International Federation of Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountancy indicates that the number of Governments applying accrual basis of accounting for preparation of their financial statements will increase by 65 percent within the next five years. Additional information on this item can be accessed by clicking here.

Corporate Reporting Dialogue launches initiative for alignment of frameworks and standards

The Corporate Reporting Dialogue (CRD) announced in November 2018 a new two-year project focused on aligning the standards and frameworks of its members. The CRD membership includes: the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB, observer), the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and is convened by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). Further information on this item can be accessed by clicking here.