How your Institute back home is dealing with sustainability

Feb 19, 2021

 

As influential members of every sector of the economy, professional accountants are uniquely positioned to help effect meaningful and positive change in a collective effort. To do so they require training and support to apply their skills to the challenge. Chartered Accountants Ireland is committed to providing our members with this support.

 

Sustainability is of global concern and relevance to us all, and businesses are vital to it. Following the shocks of the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are being called on to transform themselves, to rebuild, rebuilding a socially just, low-carbon and climate resilient economy and society. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) can provide a framework for businesses in this, but the business transformation required to achieve these goals goes beyond incremental improvements and adjustments to ‘business-as-usual’. The changes in 2021 and beyond will be dramatic, not just to the operations of business but across their value chains.

In 2020, Chartered Accountants Ireland began the process of embedding sustainability throughout our activities. Advised by an Expert Working Group on Sustainability, we created a programme of work, held virtual events on sustainability topics and launched an online Sustainability Hub providing information, guidance and supports to help members understand sustainability and meet the challenges it presents. We also published a short guide Sustainability for Accountants. This guide details the risks and opportunities presented by sustainability, and the steps that need to be taken to address the challenges. It also shares best practice examples and describes how organisations can transition to operating sustainably, successfully and cost-effectively. You can read more about our 2020 activities here.

In 2021 we will be keeping pace with the urgency of this ‘decade to deliver’. We will be building on our sustainability activities and beginning our path to a positive climate and environment impact. We are currently working on a carbon plan for our Dublin office, and reviewing our carbon footprint. We are increasing our public policy activities and members events and have begun a series of ‘explainers’ articles in our weekly eNews on topics identified as being important focal points for members in 2021, including decarbonisation, the circular economy and biodiversity and what they mean for accountants. The topic of decarbonisation will first be addressed in a District Society event in March, and sustainability is the leading topic of the Institute's Annual Governance Conference in April.

Working with the Expert Working Group on Sustainability of the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA), and in association with the Accounting Bodies Network of A4S (Accounting for Sustainability),we will be contributing to the UN Biodiversity Conference in May (‘COP 15’) and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (‘COP 26’). We are also delighted to be working as part of the One Young World and Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) initiative, FinBiz 2030 in their goals to engage financial and business professionals to achieve the UN SDGs.

Significantly, this year will see an Institute-wide ‘Sustainability Week’ from June 14-18. During this week we will launch Chartered Accountants Ireland’s own roadmap towards carbon neutrality, as well as publishing guides for members on the application to their businesses of topics such as the circular economy and biodiversity. We are running the first Chartered Accountants Ireland Sustainability Conference that week (June 16), and will bring together speakers on topics from sustainability reporting, sustainability finance and governance, as well as provide practical advice on decarbonisation programmes.

Follow our activities in the Sustainability Centre on our website to find information on our Expert Working Group on Sustainability, our events, resources, and sustainability related news. For all queries please contact Public Policy Officer Susan Rossney at susan.rossney@charteredaccountants.ie