Call for improved UN Sustainable Development Goals disclosures
A report published today offers a new approach for businesses on how to improve their corporate reporting on some of the biggest global challenges such as poverty, inequality and climate change.
The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sit at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and provide the blueprint for a more sustainable future.
ICAS has joined other leading accounting bodies and others calling for corporate and asset owner action and improved reporting on the SDGs in an attempt to hit the 17 goals set for 2030. The recommendations are detailed in the report, Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations, authored by Carol Adams, Professor of Accounting, with Paul Druckman and Russell Picot, Honorary Professors at Durham University Business School.
We have jointly published the report, entitled Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations, alongside global accountancy bodies – International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Chartered Accountants ANZ) - the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the World Benchmarking Alliance.
The SDGD Recommendations offer a new approach for businesses and other organisations to address sustainable development issues aligned to the three most influential and popular reporting frameworks. They attempt to establish a best practice for corporate reporting on the SDGs and enable more effective and standardised reporting and transparency on climate change, social and other environmental impacts.
The SDGD Recommendations were developed through consultation with accounting and finance professionals, sustainability experts, academics, consultants, framework and standard setters, asset owners and managers and civil society participants.
Responses to the consultation have been published in Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations: Feedback on the consultation. They show strong support for alignment of SDGD Recommendations with other key reporting frameworks/standards (those of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, the Global Reporting Initiative and the International Integrated Reporting Council). Respondents agreed that accountability for value destruction and negative impacts are critical.
The SDGD Recommendations call on organisations to consider sustainable development risks and opportunities relevant to their long-term value creation strategy and communicate the actual or potential impacts on achievement of the SDGs. This will require relevant and material disclosures about the factors that influence long-term value creation (or destruction) for the organisation and society or that have an impact (positive of negative) on the achievement of the SDGs in the annual report.
There is increasing awareness in both business and investment communities that the health and wellbeing of the planet and its people impact on the longer-term success of business. The SDGs offer an opportunity to collaborate and address this. A change in what and how business is done is essential to the achievement of the SDGs. Key to driving change is the requirement for a statement from the Board Chair that the Board accepts responsibility for the SDG Disclosures in the annual report.
These Recommendations are built upon a suggested five-step approach for contributing to the SDGs aligned with long-term value creation, previously developed by Professor Adams and published by the IIRC and ICAS.
The ICAS Sustainability Panel has identified the SDGs as one of its key activities and has produced a series of articles highlighting the importance and relevance of the SDGs to the accounting profession.