Prince Charles has issued a challenge to accountants worldwide to mark the tenth anniversary of his Accounting for Sustainability Project.

The Prince of Wales addressed approximately 200 senior leaders Thursday from the finance and accounting profession at the A4S Summit in London, urging them to convince their peers of the importance of taking action on sustainability while there is still time.

“Go out and seek to convince your peers,” said Prince Charles, speaking after the return of his son Prince William and daughter-in-law Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, from a whirlwind trip to New York and Washington, D.C. “In this regard, the team of accountants at A4S has highlighted some rather interesting numbers to me. I understand – and I assume a team of accountants must be right! – that if every one of you here in the room today manages to convince just five others to start accounting for sustainability, and then each one of them engages another five each year, in five years' time we could reach all of the three million accountants in the world! However, I hate to tell you that for obvious reasons five years is too long—so each of you needs to rush out and convince 10! And then accountants really will be helping to save the world!”

The Prince's Accounting for Sustainability Project was set up by Prince Charles a decade ago to drive action by the finance and accounting community to move towards resilient business models and a sustainable economy. Over the years, the A4S Project has formed a Chief Financial Officers Leadership Network which over the last year has developed four practical guides for CFOs on embedding sustainability into key finance activities. A4S has also formed the Accounting Bodies Network, which reaches 2.5 million accountants worldwide, amounting to two-thirds of the global accountancy profession. In addition, it has helped establish the International Integrated Reporting Council, which is leading the work in transforming corporate reporting into taking more account of issues such as sustainability.

“Over the 10 years since our launch, we have worked to dispel the idea that there has to be a choice between making money on one hand and 'doing the right thing' on the other,” said Jessica Fries, executive chairman of A4S speaking at the A4S Summit. “Making business decisions which are designed to build resilient business models will inevitably lead to a more sustainable economy. However time is not on our side. We have achieved a lot in ten years but there is still a great deal of work to do."

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