The key themes at COP28, including climate action, financial aspects, adaptation strategies, and climate goals, underscored the global imperative for immediate action.
Discussions focused on strategies for limiting global temperature rise, adapting to climate change, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The outcomes of COP28 highlighted the shared responsibility of nations, businesses, and organisations in combating climate change.
Helen Brand, global chief executive of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), gave her views about finance and sustainable business issues, and also emphasised the crucial role of accountants and auditors in the green transformation process.
During the panel session at COP28 with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), and many others, Brand stressed the need for businesses to take action against climate change and the importance of reporting sustainability.
She stated, “Organisations can transform into low-carbon businesses by embracing the opportunities associated with it. Professional accountants can support this climate transition by reporting the progress.”
Vietnam emerged as a standout example of commitment at COP28, seeking announcements from nations detailing plans to implement elevated Nationally Determined Contributions. This showcased the country’s active engagement in the global initiative to address climate change.
A blueprint for transformation
To Quoc Hung, country manager of the ACCA Vietnam, underlined the pivotal role of meticulous preparation on the journey towards sustainability reporting. He stated, “In navigating the intricate landscape of sustainability reporting, carefully coordinated preparation acts as the compass guiding organisations towards meaningful and impactful disclosures.”
In response to the pressing need for businesses to take concrete action, the ACCA’s Sustainability Reporting Guide stands out as a comprehensive framework. Relevant in the context of COP28 and the forthcoming ISSB Standards, the guide’s eight-stage reporting cycle provides organisations of various sizes with a flexible and adaptable approach.
The sustainability reporting cycle comprises accountability, material information, data collection, verification, and the influence of people and technology. Organisations are encouraged to independently engage with each stage and make continuous improvements in their reporting processes.
The authors of the Sustainability Guide strongly recommended recognising the pivotal connection between sustainability reporting and the creation of long-term value. To optimise decision-making and adherence to the regulations, it is crucial to integrate sustainability-related information seamlessly with financial data, they explained, warning that failure to take ownership and disclose information transparently can result in serious consequences.
Global bodies, including the ACCA, the IOSCO, the IFAC, and the ISSB, stress the need for a global approach to sustainability reporting standards, with ISSB’s set to come into effect in 2024.
Aimed at professional accountants, senior management, and talent developers, the ACCA’s Sustainability Reporting Guide provides key steps for organisations to prepare for sustainability reporting. The guide’s eight-stage reporting cycle, complemented by videos produced in partnership with the ISSB, offers a flexible framework.
Sharon Machado, head of Sustainable Business at the ACCA emphasised, “Achieving quality in sustainability reporting needn’t be a race; what’s important is having the courage to get started, the ability to apply judgment in the context of your organisation, getting others on board, and finding ways to improve.”
Sustainability reporting requirements extend to explaining the approach and progress made on sustainability-led strategies, Machado explained. The guide is a call to action for professional accountants to play their part in helping organisations reduce their carbon emissions and support the climate transition.
These calls reflect a collective commitment to drive climate action through sustainability reporting. As the world faces the critical challenges posed by climate change, businesses and organisations play a pivotal role in contributing to a more sustainable and resilient future.
The ACCA reaffirms its steadfast commitment to supporting organisations throughout their sustainability reporting journey, providing essential guidance, resources, and expertise to foster responsible and transparent practices that align with global sustainability standards.