IFAC Consultation Paper Explores Assurance Aspects of Proposed Sustainability Reporting Guidelines

Source: IFAC, 15 February 2006

The unprecedented growth in population and consumption, global resource depletion, and broadening expectations regarding social and environmental accountability are among the reasons for an increased focus on sustainability by leaders worldwide. Given the increasing role of accountancy firms in preparing assurance reports on sustainability, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has issued a consultation paper that explores the assurance aspects of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI’s) proposed new Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (G3). Last month, the GRI, which develops and disseminates global reporting guidelines on the economic, environmental and social performance of organizations, released draft new guidelines designed to enhance the comparability, clarity, ease of use, and assurability of sustainability reports. The IFAC consultation paper, Assurance Aspects of G3 – The Global Reporting Initiative’s 2006 Draft Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, explores issues in the proposed G3 Guidelines that specifically relate to assurance reporting.

The IFAC consultation paper seeks to stimulate interest among professional accountants in the GRI’s proposed new reporting guidelines – especially those aspects related to assurance reporting; to encourage accountants to review and provide comments to the GRI; and to gauge whether G3 would be suitable as criteria for assurance engagements. The consultation paper is also designed to provide IFAC’s independent International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) with feedback on the application of its International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000, Assurance Engagements Other than Audits or Reviews of Historical Financial Information, to sustainability reporting. The paper is aimed primarily at professional accountants with some familiarity with sustainability assurance and assumes a certain knowledge of GRI Guidelines, the IAASB’s assurance framework and ISAE 3000.

The IFAC consultation paper can be downloaded from its website at http://www.ifac.org/store/.

How to Comment
IFAC encourages its member bodies as well as professional accountants in business and public practice to review the GRI’s draft G3 Guidelines and to provide comments directly to the GRI by March 31, 2006. For more information, to download the G3 Guidelines and to submit comments, visit http://www.grig3.org.

Professional accountants and IFAC member bodies are asked to send a copy of their comments to IFAC to the attention of michaelnugent@ifac.org. These comments will assist IFAC in understanding the views of professional accountants on the proposed Guidelines and assist in the development of a possible IFAC response to G3, a further consultation paper, or possible future revisions to the IAASB’s assurance framework and ISAE 3000.