Report Taskforce on Sustainable Development Reporting New Zealand

Source: Institute of Chartered Accountants New Zealand, 20 November 2002

The Taskforce on Sustainable Development Reporting of the Institute of Chartered Accountants New Zealand issued it´s report on Sustainable Development Reporting.
The Taskforce on Sustainable Development Reporting (the Taskforce) was established to:

* define and scope what thought leadership in sustainable development reporting entails; and
* identify the outputs required by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand (the Institute) (and/or other parties) to achieve a position of thought leadership, having regard to the likely costs and benefits to the Institute, members and users of information.

The Taskforce has undertaken an environmental scan, which provided an overview of the main bodies that may influence the development of sustainable development reporting within New Zealand, and also the current and intended activities of national and international accounting bodies.

In addition, a number of organisations were asked to present their perspectives on the external reporting of sustainable development: Treasury, Ministry for the Environment, New Zealand Business Roundtable, and New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (NZBCSD).

There is evidence of demand for more information on the economic, social and environmental impacts of entities, strong interest in "socially responsible investing", and some indications of an expectation gap between what is sought by users in an annual report and what is currently provided. Some entities are responding to this demand, but the information provided varies greatly with regard to its usefulness and reliability.

Governments in a range of countries have sought to encourage sustainable development reporting, through both voluntary and regulatory approaches.

Some accountancy bodies have been pro-active in this area, particularly the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in the United Kingdom and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, and (more recently) the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and CPA Australia. The NZBCSD is requiring its members to issue sustainable development reports within three years of joining, and has expressed a desire for guidance from the Institute in this area. There are also a number of bodies developing sustainability reporting guidelines, the most comprehensive being the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

The report discusses:

* Sustainable Development Reporting: Definition Issues
* The Purposes and Users of Information within Sustainable Development Reports
* Current Framework for the External Reporting and Auditing of Financial and Non-financial Information in Relation to Sustainable Development Reporting
* International Frameworks and Guidelines for Sustainable Development Reporting and Auditing
* The Way Forward, and

Download the full report (pdf)