Aerial view of photovoltaic power generation farm on the lake,China.

What you need to know about ISSB's new research projects

ISSB takes on two new research projects focusing on risks and opportunities related to nature and human capital.

In brief

  • The BEES and human capital research projects could lead to greater understanding of information that investors need about those topics.
  • These research projects will form part of the ISSB’s work plan and help to further enhance a global baseline of sustainability-related financial disclosures.
  • Companies applying the ISSB’s sustainability standard need to disclose all sustainability related risks and opportunities.

The International Sustainability Standards Board (the ISSB) initiated the first consultation of its agenda priorities in May 2023 for its work plan for the next two years. At its meeting in April 2024, the ISSB decided to add to its agenda two sustainability-related risk and opportunity research projects on: biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services (BEES); and human capital.

BEES and human capital

According to the Request for Information released by the ISSB on the consultation of its agenda priorities, biodiversity is a foundational characteristic of natural systems. It is a proxy for functional, productive and resilient ecosystems which are then able to provide the ecosystem services upon which life on earth relies. Ecosystem services can include, among others, climate regulation, provision of raw materials and water, pollination, and pest and flood control. Biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services are intrinsically linked. Human capital refers to a company’s own workforce and the workforce’s respective competencies, capabilities and experience, and motivations to innovate. How a company manages and invests in its workforce can directly affect its ability to deliver value in the long term. Human capital management includes many issues such as workforce composition, workforce stability, diversity, equity and inclusion, training and development, health, safety and wellbeing, and compensation, affecting a company’s employees and contractors.

The research projects on BEES and human capital-related risks and opportunities could involve:

  • The development of a more robust understanding of the BEES and human capital-related information needs of investors,
  • The identification and potential classification of risks and opportunities related to BEES and human capital (with overlapping aspects of human rights), and
  • The assessment of existing practices, tools and metrics used to measure, manage and disclose material information about BEES and human capital-related risks and opportunities.

The ISSB will also consider how to build on existing materials, including the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s (SASB) Standards and Climate Disclosure Standards Board’s (CDSB) Framework application guidance and how to pursue approaches that would promote interoperability between its own global baseline of sustainability-related financial disclosures and other widely used standards and frameworks, such as the European Sustainability Reporting Standards.

Next steps

Undertaking these research projects is a preliminary step to exploring the feasibility and necessity of future standard setting work. The ISSB is expected to publish a feedback statement by the third quarter of 2024 that will summarise feedback on the agenda consultation and present an overview of the ISSB’s activities and work plan.

The development of these research projects will help to inform companies and ensure that they identify the BEES and human capital-related risks and opportunities appropriately.

Monitoring and contributing to the research projects


ISSB standards require a company to include in its disclosures all sustainability-related risks and opportunities unless a transition relief to only disclose climate-related risks and opportunities is applied. According to the ISSB staff paper, the agenda consultation shows that BEES and human capital are important to investors and there are deficiencies in the way companies disclose information on these matters.


The ISSB carries out its activities following the due process which builds on the principles of transparency, full and fair consultation and accountability. As sustainability reporting continues to evolve, the ISSB’s contribution will help achieve the goals to develop standards for a global baseline of sustainability disclosures as well as facilitate interoperability with other major standards and frameworks.

Stakeholder engagements take place in many parts of the world and companies will be able to provide inputs to these research projects.


The new research projects on biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services (BEES) and human capital the ISSB has added to its work plan for the next two years will involve examining the information that investors require to be disclosed to better assess a company’s sustainability related risks and opportunities.

The ISSB also intends to identify ways to supplement existing IFRS S1 and S2 standards as they evolve, and to support the interoperability of its standards with other existing standards.

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