Sustainability and the Accountant

Sustainability and the Accountant

Tomorrow’s accountant has a central role to play in sustainable development

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is publishing a series of briefing papers for its members about core accounting disciplines in relation to sustainability.

The five Sustainability Briefings cover the following issues:

  • Reporting
  • Economic Instruments
  • Audit and Assurance
  • Governance
  • Accounting

Two papers have been published already on Reporting and Economic Instruments and have been produced in partnership with KPMG and AccountAbility.

Rachel Jackson, head of social and environmental issues at ACCA, says:

"These briefings serve as introductory guides that aim to introduce our members to the challenging but exciting changes to the profession as sustainability becomes more material to businesses worldwide. Accountants have always needed to adapt to their evolving professional landscape. The next significant development is the emergence of sustainability issues within core business practice. The briefing papers will help accountants understand the implications for them."

ACCA will also publish a complementary paper summarising the sustainability elements of ACCA’s qualification. This will highlight ACCA’s continuing commitment that tomorrow’s accountant has a pivotal role to play in sustainable development.

The Reporting Sustainability Briefing says that it is how businesses deal with diverse non-financials such as customer service or climate change that drive reputation, innovation and ultimately, profitability. The future of reporting may eventually require radical changes to the reporting system. The accountant will have to understand the regulatory and voluntary reporting environment in which business and governments operate; they will have to advise on risk management and the implications of non-mandatory reporting.

The Economic Instruments briefing paper says that these instruments can provide an efficient and effective way of achieving sustainable development policy objectives. It says that accountants through their role as both technical adviser and internal decision maker, have a key role to play in understanding how economic instruments – such as carbon trading – could affect their organisation.

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