Date posted: 12/04/2018 7 min read

Raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals

Chartered Accountants ANZ lodges its submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into the SDGs

In brief

  • CA ANZ was represented at the recent Australian SDGs 2018 Summit
  • Leading organisations shared their activities to contribute towards the SDGs
  • We have lodged a submission on the Australian Senate Inquiry into the UN SDGs

Sam Mostyn and Professor John Thwaites

Sam Mostyn and Professor John Thwaites

John Thwaites and Sam Mostyn hosted the Australian Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit 2018 at Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 2018.

The Summit was convened by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Australia/Pacific and the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) with support from the Australian Government. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand was invited to participate in this important multi-stakeholder forum.

At the Summit, Major General Michael Smith, National President UNAA commented that "people don’t know about the SDGs. Australia, we need to life our game, we're behind. We lack a shared national vision and have got a lot to do.”

He also noted that currently New Zealand was doing much better than Australia and other developing countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia were very committed to SDGs.

Senator, the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific agreed and said the SDGs are "about regional stability, security and prosperity. Our challenge is to bring the Australian public with us."

Chartered Accountants ANZ recently lodged its submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into the United Nations SDGs. In it we noted the lack of awareness of the SDGs among the Australian community and the important role of the Australian Government in communicating the value of the SDGs to the wider Australian Community.

Business can also play a role to increase public awareness. Susan Mizrahi, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Australia Post, shared some of Australia Post’s activities to contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs. These include inspiring small business sustainability and cross sector partnerships. In particular, she announced an SDG stamp series to be issued later this year, which will help improve awareness of the SDGs within the wider community.

Senator, the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Senator, the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific

How organisation’s are engaging with the SDGs

Catherine Hunter, KPMG and chair of GCNA, noted how important it was for businesses not just to communicate their positive impacts but to also balance their negative impacts. Referring to a recent survey conducted by KPMG and AICD, she noted that public trust was number one on directors’ agendas for maintaining long term sustainability.

Other organisation’s who shared their activities in relation to the SDGs include Cbus Super Fund, Western Sydney University and WWF. Nicole Bradford, Portfolio Head-Responsible Investment at Cbus noted that super funds were ‘compelled’ to embrace the SDGs as they drive and achieve economic growth and member retirement outcomes.

Jen Dollin, Manager Sustainability from Western Sydney University (WSU) shared how they are transforming education to prepare students for the future such as understanding complexity, dealing with uncertainty, systems and critical thinking. All key skills for the future are noted in Chartered Accountants ANZ’s Future of Talent paper released last year.

"Australia we need to lift our game, we're behind. We lack a shared national vision and have got a lot to do."
Major General Michael Smith National President UNAA

Ms Dollin also spoke about WSU’s role as host to the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development in Greater Western Sydney (RCE-GWS). RCE-GWS’s vision is to establish itself as a model of how the linked challenges of social, economic and environmental sustainability can be addressed through an integrated process of collaboration.

Of particular interest was Dermot O’Gorman, CEO, WWF Australia, who shared details of how new innovative technology is being used to help deliver on the SDGs. WWF are partners in a project in Fiji using blockchain to improve transparency in the supply chain and stamp out illegal fishing and human rights abuses in the tuna fisheries industry.

“Bait-to-plate transparency using the blockchain will mean there is no place to hide for illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing or those operators who use slave labour or impose horrific conditions.” said O’Gorman.

The role for the accounting profession

Our submission also highlights the vital role of the accounting profession in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. We act in the public interest, promoting strong economies and a prosperous society. This aligns to the aims of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) released a paper in November 2016. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development – a snapshot of the Accountancy profession’s contribution. This paper identifies three key roles Professional Accountancy Organisation’s can play to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These are mainstreaming, implementing and monitoring the SDGs.

Key relevant SDGs for the profession are:

  • Goal 4 – Quality education
  • Goal 5 – Gender Equality
  • Goal 8 – decent work and economic growth
  • Goal 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 10 – reduced inequalities
  • Goal 12 – responsible consumption and production
  • Goal 13 – climate action
  • Goal 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Goal 17 – partnerships for the goals

Read the IFAC paper

The 2030 agenda for sustainable development - a snapshot of the accountancy profession's contribution.

Read more

Policy submission

Access the submission to senate Inquiry into SDGs

Read here