ACCA’s view on sustainability matters

Source: ACCA, 20 May 2014

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has recently published ‘Sustainability Matters’, a new policy paper collating the organisations view’s on various sustainability-related issues.
The paper sets out ACCA’s thinking on six topics:
sustainability reporting
integrated reporting
the assurance of non-financial reporting and disclosure
climate change
natural capital
the green economy.

Overall, ACCA believes that "accountants, whether working in business, in public practice or the public sector, have an important role to play in making organisations more accountable in the pursuit of sustainable development."

Sustainability reporting and integrated reporting

In the area of sustainability reporting, ACCA believes that regulatory bodies around the world should introduce sustainability reporting obligations for listed and large companies, with smaller organisations being encouraged to adopt some form of sustainability reporting. In order to achieve this, existing sustainability reporting standards need to be harmonised to ensure comparability.

ACCA also believes that there is a necessary linkage between sustainability reporting and integrated reporting, and that the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) should provide guidance on this aspect. This, along with the wider development of integrated reporting, offers a significant opportunity to improve the quality of corporate reporting and encourage investment decisions to be made based on a long-term view of performance and value.

Assurance of non-financial reporting and disclosure

ACCA believes that assurance over non-financial reporting will enhance stakeholder confidence, particularly when provided in the context of a generally accepted set of non-financial assurance standards. In particular, the application of materiality to non-financial information will be key to this process.

ACCA believes that non-financial reports should be assured, with such an assurance engagement likely to require a multidisciplinary team with accountants at its core.

Natural capital

ACCA believes that natural capital is not being measured sufficiently accurately, leading to the depletion of resources and services critical to the planet’s function and having an increasing impact on corporate profits.

ACCA believes that organisations in both the private and public sectors should report on their material impacts and dependencies on natural capital, and that the skills and experience of accountants will be crucial in creating natural capital accounting methodologies for governments and companies.

Download the paper (pdf)