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ACCA publishes agenda for sustainability and Corporate and Social Responsibility

The ‘business as usual’ model for organisations world-wide is no longer an option in this sustainable age, says ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) yesterday as it published its Sustainability Agenda for Action called Going Concern?

Allen Blewitt, ACCA’s chief executive, said: “Our commitment to the sustainability agenda sets a benchmark to which all professional bodies and associations should aspire. Going Concern? challenges influential stakeholders to acknowledge the growing societal and environmental burdens and make the change.

“Because the ‘business as usual’ model is no longer an option, businesses will have to change their entire range of products, services and operations to be truly sustainable. We all have our part to play to make progress towards sustainable development and the accountancy profession has a pivotal role within this.”

Allen Blewitt concluded: “In increasingly difficult economic circumstances, sustainability reporting may seem like a luxury to be postponed for better times; but the reality of climate change and the magnitude of the challenges it provides for all of humanity means that we cannot delay. Sustainability reporting need not be excessively costly, but it sends very positive signals to employees, customers and suppliers.”

With sustainable development (SD) increasingly recognised as a key issue facing society and business, ACCA encourages all organisations to ensure that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is at the heart of business strategy.

Going Concern? also calls for all SD-related regulation to be fair, proportionate and to be on a level playing field so that businesses can still operate in the commercial world. The report offers eight key policy areas to be addressed, from corporate governance to audit and assurance. On a practical level, the report also offers a series of recommendations for business, government and the accountancy profession to take on board, including:

  • Businesses should make sustainability a core part of their strategy and include sustainability key performance indicators in their reward and pay systems for senior managers
  • Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SMEs) need help from governments to guide them in measuring their key environmental and social impacts.
  • SMEs should become more proactive in the CSR debate and increase their profile and contribution to the growing number of initiatives, guidelines and standards being developed. 
  • Governments should encourage organisations to produce sustainability reports and learn from other Governments in this area to report themselves.
  • Investors should work to adapt investment practices to account for climate change, integrating it into their investment processes and systems.

The International Education Standards Board of the International Federation of Accountants should incorporate SD and CSR matters into its basic education requirements.

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