Date posted: 23/08/2019 5 min read

Have your say on SDG disclosures

A new consultation paper on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognises the role accountants play in decision making on these important issues.

In Brief

  • The sustainable development issues addressed by the UN SDGs will affect long-term business success
  • Businesses, asset owners and asset managers are incorporating the risks and opportunities they bring into their decision making
  • ACCA, CAANZ and ICAS have collaborated to publish SDG disclosure recommendations

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address issues that affect long-term business success, the health of the natural environment and the wellbeing of people.

Businesses, asset owners and asset managers are recognising the risks and opportunities arising from issues such as poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation and are incorporating them into business models. But more needs to be done and faster.

Acknowledging the role accountants play in the provision of information for decision making and the power of collaboration on these important issues, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) have jointly published Recommendations for SDG Disclosures: A consultation paper by Professor Carol Adams, Russell Picot and Paul Druckman.

Have your say on recommended SDG Disclosures. Submissions close 31 October 2019.

Adams, Picot and Druckman draw on their work with guidance/standard setters such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) when developing the recommendations.

They use their engagement with relevant policy developments such as those of the UK Government's Taskforce on Impact Investing and Green Finance Inquiry, corporate governance consultations by the ASX and UK FRC and the Australian Senate Inquiry on the SDGs to inform the paper.

The proposed recommendations are designed to be used in conjunction with existing reporting frameworks and be neutral with respect to them. The recommendations are also SDG-specific, recognising the complexity and interconnectedness of the sustainable development issues the SDGs address.

The recommendations are grouped in four themes: management approach (which includes risk management); strategy; governance and performance; and targets. The aim is to encourage organisations to change their approach to strategy and business models to contribute to the SDGs. The disclosures aim to provide information to investors and national governments in their reports on progress on the SDGs.

Examples of appropriate evidence to support the integration of the SDGs into business thinking are provided to encourage organisations to develop robust and credible processes and also to encourage assurance provision, which focuses on processes (not just data) by a wider range of providers.

The work builds on Adams' The Sustainable Development Goals, integrated thinking and the integrated report published jointly by ICAS and the IIRC. It is underpinned by an extensive review of academic and non-academic literature on the SDGs, research interviews with leading SDG reporters on their approach and research on SDG disclosures.The consultation paper acknowledges input from a number of global experts.

The consultation questions concern:

  • whether the disclosure principles encourage transparency in relation to risks
  • opportunities and impacts
  • the recommended disclosures
  • means of enhancing the credibility of disclosures
  • opportunities for further aligning with existing frameworks.

You are invited to respond to the consultation questions so the final document is inclusive and responsive to input from a wide range of stakeholders. Responses should be emailed as a Word or PDF attachment to the lead author Carol Adams at carol.adams@durham.ac.uk.

The closing date for submissions is 31 October 2019.