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Sustainability Accounting Standards Board unveils proposal for updated reporting standards

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board released on Monday proposed updates to sustainability reporting standards.

The exposure drafts of the standards, which cover 79 industries in 11 major sectors, is open for comment to corporate issuers, investors, and the public through Dec. 31, said a spokesman.

Provisional standards for the 11 sectors released between August 2013 and March 2016 served as the "baseline" from which SASB made its changes, a news release said.

According to a summary on the proposal, "the "standards are designed to improve the effectiveness and comparability of corporate disclosure on material environmental, social and governance factors in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings such as Forms 8-K, 10-K, 20-F and 40-F."

"The changes in the newly published exposure drafts of the standards reflect the nature of sustainability issues, which are often newly emerging, frequently evolving and increasingly well understood," according to the release. "These changes arose from significant market feedback and/or regulatory and scientific advancement, and priority was given to items that would improve the quality of the standard, including the materiality and/or decision-usefulness of the information the standard is designed to yield and the cost-effectiveness of implementation."

Specifically, SASB is looking for comment on whether "the topics included in the standards or changes to the standards are likely to constitute material information, the metrics fulfill SASB's criteria for metric selection, and the standards or changes to the standards are technically accurate and constitute a basis for 'suitable criteria' for data verification," the spokesman wrote in an email.

The exposure draft is available on SASB's website.