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The <IR> Framework revision: Inspiring better reporting

Posted 26 February, 2020

First Published on Accounting Today

The first ever revision of the International <IR> Framework is now underway.

Since the <IR> Framework’s release in December 2013, the IIRC has focused on driving its widespread international adoption. Today, there is a strong and increasing momentum for integrated reporting and integrated thinking to become the norm within mainstream business practice.

A March 2017 consultation, which invited market feedback on the implementation of integrated reporting, confirmed that the <IR> Framework stood the test of time. The Summary Feedback Report concluded, on the basis of over 400 wide-ranging submissions, that there would be no revision of the <IR> Framework before 2019.

However, the need for minor corrections and clarifications was identified in that consultation and, over the course of 2019, the <IR> Framework Board, together with the IIRC’s Board and Council, considered a potential revision after 2019. The answer is now clear and the first ever revision of the <IR> Framework kicked off on 20 February 2020.

Topics under review

The conceptual thinking and principles on which the <IR> Framework was founded are still as relevant as when the IIRC formed 10 years ago. However, the simple progression of time, insights stemming from practical use and wider market developments warrant a refresh of the <IR> Framework, rather than a wholesale overhaul.

One matter under review concerns the responsibility for an integrated report and, in particular, the current required statement from those charged with governance.

Another important matter relates to business model considerations, including the distinction between outputs and outcomes. We’ve also noticed a discrepancy between how the latter term is defined in the <IR> Framework versus how it is perceived and applied by report preparers. When the <IR> Framework was created, the term ‘outcomes’ was intended – and still intends – to encompass what many others refer to as impacts.

At the time of writing, the term ‘impacts’ lacks a broadly-accepted definition among preparers, users and other stakeholders in the wider reporting ecosystem. The <IR> Framework Board is following these developments closely.

These and other themes are explored via three Topic Papers and adjoining online surveys. Responses to these Topic Papers will inform the current revision process, as well as the IIRC’s broader strategy. We’re conscious of demands on time, so the Topic Papers are short, stand-alone primers that allow respondents to decide what matters most to them. The three Topic Papers are open for consultation until 20 March 2020.

Looking ahead

Following this period of focused engagement, the <IR> Framework Board will consider Topic Paper feedback and consult with the IIRC’s Board and Council on a draft version of the revised <IR> Framework. Starting in May, this draft will be exposed to 90 days of public consultation. Related roundtables will also be held in key markets around the world. Ultimately, our plan is to launch the revised <IR> Framework at the end of 2020, exactly seven years after it was first published.

The <IR> Framework itself is a core instrument in advancing the IIRC’s vision to align capital allocation and corporate behaviour to the wider goals of financial stability and sustainable development through the cycle of integrated reporting and thinking.

The market’s voice is essential to the revision process, because integrated reporting is, at its core, a market-led movement. On behalf of the <IR> Framework Board, I warmly encourage all stakeholders to participate in this timely and important moment in the integrated reporting journey.