Details of the Initiative
In terms of information disclosure of companies, the significance of sustainability information is becoming increasingly important in addition to conventional financial information. Europe and the United States have especially developed the standards for sustainability information and institutionalized the disclosure. In Japan, where companies had voluntarily disclosed such information, it has been required to be disclosed in a securities report, etc. since the settlement as of March 2023, which was the first step of the disclosure.
It is necessary for a third party to guarantee sustainability information in order to give credibility to such information. The European Union is making the assurance of sustainability reports mandatory, and the standards for sustainability assurance has been developed globally.
I have been conducting research under the theme of the current state of the assurance of non-financial information, including sustainability information in Germany. In Germany, an institution of accounting and auditing professions publishes some literatures as a guideline. Reference 1 is one of them. Based on that, I analyzed the assurance of non-financial information of 24 listed companies in Germany (Reference 2). Among the 24 companies, 23 had auditing firms as practitioners of assurance engagements, four of which were large auditing firms (Reference 3). Although the assurance of non-financial information was given on the same level with the auditing of financial statements (reasonable assurance) in some companies, I have found out that such assurance mostly tends to be given on a level lower than the auditing of financial statements (limited assurance) (Reference 4).
It is expected that discussions on sustainability information assurance will be further developed in Japan in the future.