A round up of the key themes from recent events – with links to recordings

by Carol A Adams

Main points:

  • Across the world various bodies and organisations are considering what policy development in relation to climate change and sustainable development means to them
  • Summarises some recent events I’ve spoken at with some incredible people and includes links to recordings.

ICAS discussion on the future of sustainability reporting standards

In this stimulating conversation with Sir David Tweedie and Professor Mervyn King hosted by Anne Adrain at Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) we considered:

  • How do you harmonise very different approaches to reporting?
  • Do investors need to know about the impacts of an organisation on sustainable development?
  • What is sustainability reporting?
  • What types of backgrounds should those setting sustainability reporting standards have?
  • What kind of conceptual framework is needed to link sustainability and financial reporting? Does the International Accounting Standards Board’s Management Commentary Exposure Draft fit the bill?

The recording of the discussion is here.

SAMPJ panel discussion on sustainable development risk reporting

This webinar organised by the Sustainability Accounting Management and Policy Journal together with the the Ethical Finance, Accountability and Governance research centre at Durham University Business School and the Social and Environmental Sustainability in Organisations Research Group at Swinburne University of Technology. The speakers considered the information needed by investors and lenders on sustainable development risks. The speakers were: Russell Picot special advisor to the FSB Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and member of the trustee board of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (Ltd) and chair of the Trustee board of the HSBC UK pension fund; Kristian Fok, Chief Investment Officer at Cbus Super Fund; Damien Walsh, CEO Bank Australia; Associate Professor Subhash Abhayawansa discussing research in the area; and Professor Richard Slack identifying new research opportunities. I had the honour of introducing and chairing the discussion which generated some interesting ideas for future research. Not only is there no one investor perspective on sustainability information needs – in fact an investor needs different information from different sources depending on the type of asset. Much information is coming from sources outside the company.

The recording of the discussion is here.

Accountancy Europe panel discussion on mobilising the public sector for a sustainable economy

Olivier Boutellis-Taft, CEO, Accountancy Europe gave a compelling introduction to this discussion in June on the urgency of action. Other speakers were: Vivi Niemenmaa, Deputy Director, National Audit Office of Finland; Cecilia Ekholm, Ambassador for Sustainable Business, Government Offices, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs; and, Wim Bartels, Chair, Accountancy Europe’s Sustainability Policy Group. We all gave different perspectives on the importance of public sector action and what form that action should take. I spoke about the importance of public sector accountability for the achievement of the SDGs and of consideration social and environmental impacts into account in CAPEX decision making. I discussed what the transition to a sustainable economy means for sustainability reporting and how organisations change in response to the SDGs.

The recording of the discussion is here.

ICAEW/CIPFA round table on evidence based policy development in sustainability

An event jointly organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) and Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in May considered the importance of evidence based policy development on sustainability issues and the role of accounting. The round table discussion was introduced by Alison Ring OBE, ICAEW and Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA. Martin Gaunt from the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spoke about the UK Govt’s 2019 commitment to reach net zero by 2050, what that means and how it will be achieved. Gareth Davies, Head of the UK National Audit Office discussed their approach to auditing net zero and how they are developing their thinking on climate change reporting and auditing. Alexia Pervasi from Mazars discussed the importance of assurance, governance and systems processes and controls. I spoke about what research tells about what sustainability reporting needs to look like in order to facilitate change and inform stakeholders.

The recording of the discussion is here.

Global Reporting Initiative high-level policy dialogue on the inclusion of the double materiality concept in the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

GRI held a high level policy dialogue in June on the double materiality concept in June. Opening remarks were made by a senior speaker from the European Commission and a member of the European Parliament. I then chaired a discussion with a reporting organisation, investor and Labour representative. Closing remarks were made by the Chair of the Global Sustainability Standards Board, Judy Kuszewski. GRI’s summary of the take-aways from the dialogue are here.

The summary of research on double materiality that I wrote with my PhD students to inform the discussion can be found here.

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