Sustainability

  In this week’s Public Policy news, read about: Ireland’s upcoming Local Enterprise Week and extensions to expiry dates of driving licences; Labour Market Statistics in Northern Ireland and extension of free access to the SME skills programme; and the publication of the EU Commission’s 'open, sustainable and assertive' trade policy. ‘Making it Happen’ – Local Enterprise Week, March 1 - 5 The full programme of events for the 2021 Local Enterprise Week has been launched by An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD. More than 200 virtual events are planned between 1 March and 5 March under the theme ‘Making it Happen’. Events include training workshops, information webinars and masterclasses on topics from starting a new business, resilience and recovery, the green economy, and the new trading relationship with the UK. For the first time, Local Enterprise Week will also include ‘Spotlight’ events, open to every business across the country. The first spotlight event is Benefits of Green for your Business –Launching Green for Micro and will focuses on how to make business practices more sustainable and what new supports are now available. More details for Local Enterprise Week are available here. Further extensions to driving licence expiry dates This week Ireland’s Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton, TD, published details of a further extension to the expiry dates of driving licences in Ireland. The move comes as the EU and national Governments take steps in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19 to driver-licensing services across the EU. The extension will apply to different groups of licence holders, including those who benefited from extensions in 2020. Details of the changes, as well as further information on extension of driving licences, can be found on the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) website www.ndls.ie or the Road Safety Authority (RSA) website www.rsa.ie Northern Ireland labour market statistics published  Labour market statistics published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reveal that the number of proposed collective redundancies (10,640) in the 12 months to the end of January was more than double the number in the previous 12 months; the 190 confirmed redundancies in January take the overall figure to 5150, the highest since 2004. Employment levels remain below pre-COVID-19 levels, while measures of unemployment remain above these levels, with HMRC payroll data showing that while the number of paid employees increased in December and January, the number of employees in January remains 1.1 percent below the March 2020 total. SMEs in Northern Ireland access to free training extended to March 2022 Northern Ireland’s Economy Minister Diane Dodds this week announced that the Skills Focus scheme – the scheme enabling small and medium enterprises SMEs, including social enterprises, to upskill and reskill staff – will remain free for businesses until the end of March 2022. The Skills Focus scheme provides businesses with access to tailored teaching in accredited and industry-standard qualifications in a range of areas and levels from further education colleges. Businesses usually pay 25 percent of this costs for the scheme, but in May 2020 this requirement was waived until 31 March 2021. The second extension of this waiver is to further support businesses through the pandemic. EU Commission sets ‘open, sustainable and assertive’ trade policy The European Commission has put sustainability at the heart of its new trade strategy, which  focuses on delivering stronger global trading rules and contributing to the EU’s economic recovery. The strategy is informed more than 400 submissions in a public consultation, and close engagement with the European Parliament, EU governments, businesses, civil society and the public. The new strategy aims to support the EU’s transformation to a climate-neutral economy, through strengthening trade’s capacity to support the digital and climate transitions, and, where necessary, to take a more assertive stance in defending its interests and values. Speaking about the new strategy, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “The challenges we face require a new strategy for EU trade policy. We need open, rules-based trade to help restore growth and job creation post-COVID-19. Equally, trade policy must fully support the green and digital transformations of our economy and lead global efforts to reform the WTO. It should also give us the tools to defend ourselves when we face unfair trade practices. We are pursuing a course that is open, strategic and assertive, emphasising the EU's ability to make its own choices and shape the world around it through leadership and engagement, reflecting our strategic interests and values.”   Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre

Feb 26, 2021
Public Policy

  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

Feb 19, 2021
Public Policy

  In this week’s Public Policy news, read about the 2021 Ireland for Finance Plan in which Chartered Accountants Ireland is a stakeholder; positive Eurozone GDP and employment estimates for Q4, 2020; and investment by both the UK and EU in green research, environment and climate action. Ireland for Finance Action Plan 2021 published The  Ireland for Finance Action Plan 2021 has been published by Minister of State for Financial Services, Credit Unions, and Insurance, Seán Fleming TD, following Cabinet approval. The Ireland for Finance Action Plans are published every year to update the ‘Ireland for Finance’ strategy, the Irish Government’s strategy for the development of Ireland’s international financial services sector to 2025. The vision of  strategy is for Ireland to be the recognised global location of choice for specialist international financial service, and the strategy is supported through ongoing collaboration between public and private stakeholders and educational institutions. The strategy is structured around the following four pillars: operating environment technology and innovation talent communications and promotion, and the annual Action Plans contain lists of measures grouped under each of the four pillars to be actioned in that year, to be executed by a responsible stakeholder. The 2021 Action Plan identifies four priorities: sustainable finance; diversity; regionalisation, and digital finance. New actions under the 2021 Plan include delivering a new Masters programme in fintech innovation, promoting careers for women in the Financial Services industry, and developing a portfolio of sustainable finance education programmes.  Ongoing initiatives include engaging at EU level on sustainable finance developments, continuing the rollout of Ireland’s sustainable finance innovation programme supporting the development of new IFS environmental, social, and governance products and services, and delivering training programmes in sustainable finance and responsible investment supported by the Sustainable Finance Skillnet. Chartered Accountants Ireland is identified as a responsible stakeholder in the Action Plan, in its support of the financial services sector. Under the plan, the Institute will seek to provide a post-qualification accreditation, review its initial qualification syllabus, and revisit its CPD programme to ensure it best meets the needs of the financial services sector. Additionally, Chartered Accountants Ireland will assist in attracting, retaining, and upskilling people by promoting the flexible route to Chartered Accountancy within the financial services sector. Commenting on the 2021 Action Plan, Minister Donohoe noted: “The International Financial Services sector in Ireland will play a major role in not only the global economic recovery but the twin transitions to a digital and sustainable future. The 2021 Action Plan, drawn up in partnership with industry, sets out clearly how we intend to build on our strengths and successes in recent years in this dynamic and growing sector.” Minister Fleming officially launched the Ireland for Finance Action Plan for 2021 ahead of the sixth annual European Financial Forum, the  speakers at which included EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness. Commissioner McGuinness is the keynote speaker at the upcoming joint IOB/Chartered Accountants Ireland Financial Services Conference on March 12, also mentioned in the Action Plan. UK to invest £10 million in green finance research hubs It was announced this week that the UK government is to invest £10 million for green finance research hubs, to be based in Leeds and London. It is intended that the hubs will provide world-class data and analytics to support financial institutions and services in considering environmental and climate-change impacts. It is also expected that the hubs will attract and develop new green finance talent from around the world to the UK’s major cities. The plan is the latest development in the UK’s drive to ‘build back greener’, create new ‘green’ jobs and become a world-leader in tackling climate change, as set out in the Prime Minister’s Ten point plan, published in November 2020, and the government’s December 2020 Energy white paper.   Commenting, UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment in London and Leeds will encourage financial services to turn the tide of their investments and focus on sectors and companies that have a smaller environmental footprint. Doing so will support industries and businesses to develop clean green innovations, creating thousands of jobs across the country – ensuring we build back greener.” Positive Eurozone GDP and employment estimates for the fourth quarter of 2020 Estimates this week from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, have shown that the fall in the eurozone GDP was less than initially estimated in the last quarter of 2020. According to a flash estimate by Eurostat, an earlier estimate of a 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter contraction in the eurozone GDP for the October–December period is now estimated to be 0.6 percent. Also, despite pandemic lockdowns, employment has increased against the previous three months, with employment growing 0.3 percent in the EU in the last three months of 2020. However, this is still 2 percent lower than the 2019 equivalents. €121 million to be invested by the EU in environment, nature and climate action projects The European Commission has announced an investment of €121 million for new integrated projects under the LIFE programme, the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. LIFE integrated projects were introduced in 1992 and have co-financed more than 5,500 projects across the EU and in non-EU countries. The funding this year has increased by 20% compared to last year and will promote the green recovery in Ireland and other countries. Integrated projects aim to enable statutory authorities in EU Member States implement environmental and climate legislation to the fullest extent, helping Member States comply with key EU legislation in six areas: nature, water, air, waste, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. Uniquely, they allow Member States to make use of other EU funding sources -  agricultural, structural, regional and research funds as well as national funds and private sector investment.  Under ‘Climate Change Mitigation’ mention is made of Ireland’s restoration of c.10,000 hectares of peatlands – an area roughly the size of Dublin – which have high carbon-storage potential. Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre

Feb 19, 2021
Pensions

  In this week’s Public Policy news, read about developments on the future of the Irish State pension, a consultation process on Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan, and the UK government’s plans to fund businesses across the UK to improve the efficiency of their industrial processes and reduce energy demand. Public consultation launched on future of State pension Pensions were in the news this week, with the Commission on Pensions in Ireland launching a four-week public consultation process on the future of State pensions to ensure that the national pension system can be funded in the future on a fiscally and socially sustainable basis. The Irish Government announced this week that it will delay until at least 2023 the introduction of auto-enrolment, the scheme intended to address the sole reliance by almost 40 percent of workers in the private sector on the state pension to fund their retirement. This announcement was made despite figures released by the CSO showing once again the scale of the pensions challenge facing Ireland. These figures, which show estimate of pension liabilities from 2018, are summarised below: Irish pension schemes had liabilities of €607.9 billion at the end of 2018 State pension schemes account for 59% (€360bn) of the total liability Private pension schemes equated to 21% of the total liability (€99.1bn) The liabilities equate to 186% cent of Irish GDP at that time, compared to 167% when figures were last released for 2015. Commenting for Chartered Accountants Ireland's Public Policy Lead, Cróna Clohisey said: “The lack of private pension provision has been on the agenda of various governments in Ireland over the past 20 years and the only solution the State has given serious consideration is to make people work longer. This approach is simply unsustainable.” Commenting further, Clohisey said that it was not surprising that auto-enrolment has been put on hold, but that the lack of private pension funding isn’t going to be solved without significant action by the Government. The Institute plans to respond to the public consultation on State Pensions and would welcome any comments from members.  These can be emailed to publicpolicy@charteredaccountants.ie. We will continue to monitor developments and bring updates to members. Consultation process opens for Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD has announced a consultation process, which will run until the 22 February, on the development of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) for approval by the EU. This plan will enable Ireland to access funding under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), under which Ireland is expected to receive €853 million in grants in 2021, 2022 and, potentially, 2023. The plan is to include reforms and investments to be supported by the RRF that seek to address challenges identified in the relevant Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) received by Ireland in 2019 and 2020, which arise as part of the European Semester process.  The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD has announced a consultation process, which will run until the 22 February, on the development of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) for approval by the EU. This plan will enable Ireland to access funding under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), under which Ireland is expected to receive €853 million in grants in 2021, 2022 and, potentially, 2023. The plan is to include reforms and investments to be supported by the RRF that seek to address challenges identified in the relevant Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) received by Ireland in 2019 and 2020, which arise as part of the European Semester process.  Ireland’s National Reform Programme in 2021 will be integrated into our National Recovery and Resilience Plan and will have a particular focus on green and digital transition, as well as supporting economic recovery and job creation. UK governments to fund heavy industries’ reduction of carbon emissions and energy bills The UK government has this week announced that a total of £289 million will be made available in funding until 2024 to support the government’s mission to ‘build back greener’ from the COVID-19 pandemic impact and support heavy industry as the UK transitions to a low-carbon economy. The grants will be available across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to enable businesses to use new technology to improve the efficiency of industrial processes and reduce energy demand. Grants  will be made available to businesses in energy-intensive sectors, including pharmaceuticals, steel, paper and food and drink through the government’s Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF). The new minimum grant amount of £100,000 for deployment projects is to allow more flexibility for small businesses to receive funding. Applications may be made from Monday 8 March until Wednesday 14 July. Find out more about funding here.   Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre

Feb 12, 2021
Sustainability

  In this week’s Public Policy news, read about a report into the response of professional accounting bodies to the COVID-19 pandemic; how business-as-usual won’t be enough to meet Ireland’s climate objectives; an extension on the public consultation to the National Development Plan; an investment in SFI Research Centres; current unemployment levels in Ireland; and Northern Ireland’s Energy Strategy and entrepreneurial funding. Building a Better Future – The response of Accounting Bodies to the COVID-19 pandemic Chartered Accountants Ireland has contributed to a report providing insights into how professional accountancy organisations responded to the COVID-19 crisis and are working the shape a more resilient future. Institute's Professional Accountancy Leader, Dee Moran, and Susan Rossney, Sustainability Expert and Public Policy Officer, collaborated with members of the Institute's team and the team in A4S to contribute to the report. “Building a better future”, published by the UK Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project’s Accounting Bodies Network, details the accountancy bodies’ immediate response to the pandemic and explores the actions accountancy bodies will take in order to reset and rebuild a more sustainable economy. The report sits alongside a second report setting out recommendations for actions that CFOs and others from across the finance and accounting community can take to build back better, drawing on lessons from the pandemic response. “Fundamental changes” required to how we do business The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD has announced that he is leading the preparation of the next Climate Action Plan, which will set out actions that must be taken across every economic sector in order to ensure Ireland delivers on its energy commitments. One of the major deliverables of this, of course, was announced this week, with the Minister obtaining Cabinet approval to introduce legislation to ban licences for new oil and natural gas exploration. The legislation will be included in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Amendment Bill which will go before the Oireachtas in the Spring Legislative Programme. The announcement points to the scale of ambition that the Minister has warned is required for Ireland to meet is climate objectives, and which is likely to have a major impact on businesses in Ireland. Speaking at the launch of a joint publication by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) last week, Minister Ryan stated that simply “doing less than business-as-usual will not be enough; we must make fundamental changes to how we do business and how we live our lives.” The report, which found that the overall GHG emissions reduced in 2020, contained warnings that this reduction may be temporary, with the economic rebound from the Covid-19 crisis estimated to bring emissions back to previous levels unless additional action is taken (Full detail on the 2020 estimates is available on the EPA and SEAI websites.) We will monitor developments and continue to update members. National Development Plan public consultation phase extended The deadline for submissions to the public consultation to the National Development Plan has been extended until 19 February 2021. The National Development Plan will support economic, social, environmental and cultural development across the country in parallel with the National Planning Framework. This framework provides a high-level guide to planning and development over the next 20 years. Announcing the extension, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, TD, stated “We need to ensure that we have the capacity to adapt and we must take an integrated approach, including climate change adaption at every stage in our development plan. This will make development more resilient by reducing climate impacts and make for a better future for the people of Ireland and I am particularly anxious to hear the views of the public on this matter.” Details for how to respond to the consultation can be found here. The final review of the National Development Plan is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021. €193 million investment in five world - leading SFI Research Centres Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD has announced an investment of €193 million in five Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centres for six years. A key objective of SFI’s Agenda 2020 is to position Ireland as a global knowledge leader and develop a set of world-leading, large-scale research centres that will provide major economic impact for Ireland. The five centres will carry out research into smart medical devices, e-health, telecommunications networks, cybersecurity, smart cities, artificial intelligence, ethics and data privacy, as well as applied geosciences, energy security and marine resources. The investment is further backed by significant industry support from 200 industry partners committing over €91 million in cash and in-kind contributions. Unemployment in Ireland rises to 25 percent Figures released this week by the Central Statistics Office (SCO) show that unemployment in the Republic of Ireland rose to 25 percent in January 2021, when adjusted to take account of those receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). The unemployment rate using the standard methodology remained unchanged from last month, at 5.8 percent. The rate of unemployment was 15.7 percent among 15-24 year olds and 4.6 percent among 25-74 year olds. The report mentioned that at least 8 percent of PUP recipients are attending full-time education during the current academic year. Northern Ireland’s Energy Strategy and funding for energy entrepreneurs The Northern Ireland Department of the Economy has published its Energy Strategy e-bulletin, the seventh in a regular series to keep key stakeholders updated on progress with developing the new energy strategy. The bulletin provides information and advice that businesses may need in the coming years as the energy sector is decarbonised, as well as funding opportunities for low carbon energy and report on the Future of Energy Efficiency Policy in Northern Ireland. The bulletin was published the same week as the UK government announced £11 million in government funding for UK energy entrepreneurs to turn ideas into clean, green technologies that eliminate carbon emissions. Commenting, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis said that “[w]ith a share of this new £11 million investment, Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs will be able to help supercharge the United Kingdom’s ‘Green Economy’, as we continue to work towards our goal of reducing our emissions to net zero by 2050”. The Secretary of State encouraged all entrepreneurs to apply for the scheme to help Northern Ireland build back greener. Further details for how to apply are here. Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre

Feb 05, 2021
Sustainability

  In 2020, Chartered Accountants Ireland began the process of embedding sustainability throughout our activities. We launched an online Sustainability Hub, published a guide for accountants, and held events throughout the (virtual!) country. Read about our journey in 2020, and our plans for 2021. 2020 was remarkable for many reasons, and you could be forgiven for missing the anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement. This landmark international accord was adopted by nearly every nation in 2015, and set out a global framework to prevent the earth’s temperature rising over 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The anniversary was to be marked at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (‘COP 26’) Glasgow in November 2020. This conference will take place in November 2021 instead. In 2020, Chartered Accountants Ireland began the process of embedding sustainability throughout our activities. In January 2020 we published our Climate Change Call to Action. This call to action was signed by 13 chief executives representing 14 accounting bodies worldwide. It called upon the accountancy profession to act now to help the organisations they work with to respond to climate change with the urgency and scale required. The accountancy bodies, who are all members of A4S’s Accounting Bodies Network, represent over 2.5 million accountants and students globally. (The A4S is The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project). The call to action included actions and commitments from the bodies themselves in support of their members, and highlighted that climate change represents an economic, social and business risk – a risk that accountants from across the world must take action on. Just last month, Institute Chief Executive Barry Dempsey contributed again to a report by the Accounting Bodies Network, launched on 14 January. The Building a Better Future report details the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by 16 accounting bodies, explores how the profession plans to contribute to a sustainable recovery and examines lessons learnt from their response to the pandemic. It also demonstrates how the accountancy bodies in the report want to take this opportunity to build a more sustainable and resilient economy, creating a sustainable legacy out of a crisis. Institute's Professional Accountancy Leader, Dee Moran, and Susan Rossney, Sustainability Expert and Public Policy Officer, collaborated with members of the Institute's team and the team in A4S to contribute to the report. What we did in 2020 Chartered Accountants Ireland supported members in dealing with the economic, social and business risk posed by climate change, even while dealing with the immediate economic crisis, in a range of other ways in 2020, including: Launching Strategy24, reflecting our ambition to build a more sustainable profession and institute in all aspects of our work. Our vision for the future is underpinned by five core ideals that support our central ethos of "for tomorrow, for good".  Building and launching a Sustainability Hub. This online centre has information, guidance and supports to help members understand sustainability and meet the challenges it presents. Publishing a new guide, Sustainability for Accountants, detailing the risks and opportunities presented by sustainability, and the steps that need to be taken to address the challenges. In 2020, our Professional Accountancy team, with input from our Ethics and Governance Head, Niall Fitzgerald, as well as Institute Committees and our Expert Working Group on Sustainability responded to two sustainability-related international consultations of relevance to our members.   The first was public consultation on the review of the EU’s Non-Financial Reporting Directive. This Directive lays down the rules on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large public-interest companies, which have been required to non-financial statements in their annual reports from 2018 onwards. The second was the IFRS's consultation on the establishment of global sustainability reporting standards.  Running three nationally-focused knowledge and networking sustainability events, connecting experts with each other, and providing accountant-relevant information on the topic for both the public and private sector: a webinar as part of Climate Finance Week to discuss how accountants can lead the way in introducing sustainable practices (Nov 6); 'Public Sector: Engaging with Sustainability' (Nov 26); and ‘ESG Disclosure: What Investors Look For' (Dec 9).  Through our District Societies we ran events on the topic of sustainability. In 2020 the topic was addressed by: London (Feb 2020) Cork (June 2020) North-West (September 2020) Ulster (September 2020) Societies. Our Young Professionals Society's January 2020 event on sustainability was attended by over 100 people. It showcased sustainable products and used only ethically sourced catering and recyclable products at the event. Sustainability was included as a topic area in our CPD programme, as part of the CPD Blitz business workstream in November and December 2020. Within the Institute itself, there is an established team-driven CSR programme, which details our ESG initiatives, including information about our use of paper, plastic, water and electricity, our diversity and inclusion commitment and our focus on staff wellbeing. In 2020 we introduced branded keep cups and water bottles for the team, and planned a Green Week in March 2020 (postponed to when the offices reopen). Plans for events, mostly online, are now being generated for 2021. Our Future Plans In 2021 we will be building on our sustainability activities, beginning our path to carbon neutrality, and increasing our public policy activities and members events. Every few weeks in eNews, we will publish ‘explainers’ into areas that we have identified as being important focal points for members in 2021, including decarbonisation, the circular economy and biodiversity and what they mean for accountants. Head of Ethics and Governance and member of the Expert Workin Group, Niall Fitzgerald, is addressing the topic of sustainability and governance in webinars and in the Institute's Annual Governance Conference in April. There will be a Sustainability Week from 14 June, with a Chartered Accountants Ireland Sustainability Conference and other online events. 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 further information contact our Public Policy Officer and Sustainability Expert Susan Rossney.

Feb 04, 2021