My colleague Ian Hicks was in Geneva this week speaking at the ISAR (International Standards of Accounting and Reporting) workshop during the UNCTAD World Investment Forum. The workshop debated current challenges in corporate reporting and how these might be addressed in the context of enterprise economic activities, as well as areas such as corporate social responsibility, environment protection, and corporate governance.

During a session highlighting major trends and initiatives in corporate reporting models, Ian, in his capacity as Chair of the XBRL Inc. Best Practices Board (BPB), offered his perspective on how XBRL supports corporate financial and non-financial reporting and how this might benefit the monitoring and analysis of sustainable development as part of the UNCTAD agenda.

The conference brought together leading experts from, amongst others, the world of accountancy and reporting, policy making, regulatory affairs, and academia, as well as investors and report preparers. Representatives came from as far afield as Nigeria and Australia to debate the issues around corporate reporting and how to ensure that fair and useful information is gathered and made available.

Under Ian’s direction the BPB has recently published a Taxonomy Architecture Guide as part of XII’s community outreach and its remit to collect, compile and develop implementation guidance material. This practical experience informed Ian’s remarks during the workshop.

In planning to adopt corporate reporting as part of the sustainability development agenda, UNCTAD might do worse than consider implementing XBRL to help with transparency and global comparability of information.