Eight ways accountants can contribute to sustainability

Business people
By Anne Adrain

8 August 2015

Anne Adrain, Assistant Director, Sustainability and Assurance, summarises the latest guidance from the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) on how accountants can contribute to business sustainability.

It was Peter Bakker, Chief Executive of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, who said: "Accountants will save the world".

If you are an accountant working in business and sustainability is on your agenda, then the latest guidelines from IFAC can help you achieve business resilience.

Accounting for Sustainability: From Sustainability to Business Resilience, highlights the important role accountants can, and must, play in embracing sustainability challenges. It also provides guidance on how to ensure that the organisations that accountants serve are resilient, by linking these challenges to a broader business agenda and strategy.

Eight practical tips

IFAC suggests eight practical ways for accountants to make a difference and fulfil their role as business partners:

  1. Identify and connect key trends and impacts to the organisation's strategy, business model and performance.
  2. Integrate significant natural and social capital issues into decision-making processes.
  3. Assess the benefits of tackling environmental and social issues (eg cost reduction; revenue generation).
  4. Organise internal systems and processes to ensure what matters is measured and managed.
  5. Link the strategy and resources to the creation of value for stakeholders.
  6. Drive efficiency by reducing waste and controlling costs.
  7. Provide credibility to the information and data produce through effective oversight and governance.
  8. Communicate clearly to ensure transparency.

The briefing examines the link between sustainability and business resilience, how integrating sustainability leads to better performance, and the key elements of developing a sustainable strategy and business model.

It also includes references and links to some of the many resources and tools available to help develop knowledge and skillsets.

As IFAC President, Olivia Kirtley, recently said: "Businesses are resilient when they are able to create and continue to deliver value to stakeholders, which involves considering both the risks and opportunities presented by sustainability issues, including environmental and social aspects, that ultimately affect financial performance and value creation.

She adds: "Accountants working in the public and private sectors have a significant role to play in supporting and making the decisions that guide an organisation's ability to be resilient."

Download the report

About IFAC

IFAC is the global organisation for the accountancy profession, dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. It is comprised of more than 175 members and associates in 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.8 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.


  • Sustainability

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