Supporting the royal vision for sustainability

By Anne Adrain, ICAS Assistant Director, Sustainability & Assurance

7 January 2015

ICAS will be supporting Prince Charles' Accounting for Sustainability project in a number of ways in 2015.

The past year was one of landmarks, with ICAS celebrating its 160thbirthday and this coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Prince's Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) project, established by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

ICAS works with A4S to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability as an accounting issue and, in 2015, we will be aiming to build on our existing relationship with this body through involvement in some key projects. These are:

  • The production of practical guidance demonstrating the business case for embedding sustainability in business practice. 
  • Exploring and sharing ways in which the guidance can be used to increase engagement at both member and chief financial officer (CFO) level. 
  • Developing policy statements that are aligned to some of the key international events taking place in 2015, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21. 

Sustainability is a subject close to the Prince's heart. He firmly believes that it is down to accountants, as decision makers and holders of the corporate financial purse, to lead and encourage businesses to embed sustainability principles in their operations and activities.

In 2008, A4S established the Accounting Bodies Network (ABN), bringing together a global group of accountants across 18 institutes, including ICAS, which represent two thirds of accountants globally.

ICAS has been a member of A4S and ABN for a number of years and in the past has been involved in the following areas:

  • Natural and Social Capital. We are a founding member of the Scottish Forum for Natural Capital and in collaboration with this forum, and the Institute of Directors Scotland, conducted an attitudinal survey on awareness of Natural Capital as a business issue, among our members in business. 
  • Integrated reporting. We have demonstrated continued support for this initiative by participating in the International Integrated Reporting Council's (IIRC) Assurance Technical Collaboration Group. 
  • Participation in the A4S CFO Network via ICAS member, Gregor Alexander, Finance Director of Scottish and Southern Energy. 

Every December, delegates from the global bodies get together in London for a programme of events to share their achievements over the preceding year and to set the future strategy.

The 2014 events culminated in a Summit, chaired by Prince Charles, to showcase and promote four guidance papers developed by the A4S CFO Network. These are short, focused and practical publications written by finance professionals for finance teams on the following subjects:

  • CAPEX: embedding sustainability in capital expenditure appraisals with a foreword written by ICAS member Gregor Alexander. In it he stresses how important it is for CFOs to ensure that not only do their decisions benefit company shareholders and customers …"but they must also protect the well-being of current and future generations". Companies must adapt to a changing world where: "New measures and metrics exist, which are wider in scope and encompass more societal and environmental impacts." 
  • Natural and social capital accounting: what do you need to know? 
  • Managing future uncertainty: sustainability risks and opportunities. 
  • Investor engagement: practical approaches for companies to engage investors on the drivers of long-term sustainable business value. 

These papers will be available on the A4S website soon.


  • Sustainability

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