- Investor demand for high quality sustainability information is accelerating the need for reporting standards.
- Along with enhanced or mandatory reporting, sustainability information will require assurance.
- Assurance practitioners have the skills needed to claim this space and evolve their businesses.
A new guide from CA ANZ aims to help small to medium assurance firms understand what they need to do to position their practices to seize the opportunities sustainability assurance offers.
Businesses have been reporting various forms of non-financial information for some time now. Whether it was triple bottom line, corporate social responsibility reporting, or integrated reporting, there has been a move towards giving investors more of this kind of information. With the added pressures of reporting on climate-related risks and other emerging risks, there has been an increase in the demand for sustainability assurance. In response, standard setters and regulators globally and locally are moving to develop common standards and mandate what is becoming known as ‘sustainability reporting’, which encompasses more than just climate-related disclosures.
While it is easy to think that this form of reporting will only be required by large corporates, the fact is that those large corporates will be looking for suppliers who can prove their sustainability bona fides too. The push for sustainability reporting will flow through to small and medium entities.
With new forms of reporting comes the challenge of how to ensure it is high quality and reliable as well. This is where sustainability assurance comes into play.
“Today, there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for audit firms to put down a marker and make sustainability assurance their domain.”
The assurance of sustainability reporting could be the biggest change and opportunity the auditing profession has experienced since the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Chartered Accountants are well positioned for the challenge, they have the skills and experience to provide the assurance required. However, practitioners need to be proactive in claiming this space.
The guide examines what the journey to providing sustainability assurance might look like. It shares experiences from sustainability assurance practitioners already working in large and small audit firms, and those consulting in the sustainability reporting space, and provides links to resources to help you on the way.