International accounting groups call for better sustainable development disclosures
A group of international accounting organizations is calling for improved reporting and action on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to hit the ambitious goals set for 2030.
The organizations include the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the World Benchmarking Alliance. The report, Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations, co-authored by professors Carol Adams, Paul Druckman and Russell Picot of Durham University Business School, has been endorsed by the director of SDG impact at the United Nations Development Program.
The report describes how businesses can address sustainable development issues within the context of three reporting frameworks from the IIRC, the Global Reporting Initiative and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. It attempts to establish a best practice for corporate reporting on the sustainable development goals and enable more effective and standardized reporting and corporate transparency around climate change, social and other environmental impacts.
The recommendations were developed in consultation with a group of accounting and finance professionals, sustainability experts, academics, consultants, framework and standard setters, asset owners and managers and civil society participants.
Responses to the consultation have also been published in a companion report, Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations: Feedback on the consultation. They show strong support for alignment of the SDGD recommendations with other key reporting framework and standards. The respondents agreed that accountability for value destruction and negative impacts are critical.
“There is increasing awareness in both business and investment communities that the health and wellbeing of the planet and its people impact on the longer term success of business,” Adams said in a statement. “The SDGs offer an opportunity to collaborate and address this. A change in what and how business is done is essential to the achievement of the SDGs.”
The reports found that the current level of disclosure by organizations on sustainable development issues is insufficient to support achievement of the UN’s sustainable development goals and long-term net value creation for organizations and society. Addressing this requires a concerted effort by all sectors of society and collaboration between organizations and authorities responsible for developing guidelines, regulation and ‘tools’ to drive change.
"Achieving the SDGs requires dedication from business, and the urgency continues to grow,” said IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey in a statement. “We fully support global best practices that enable effective, transparent reporting on sustainability measures. It's imperative that we act together and that we act now to secure a sustainable future.”