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Global accounting bodies urge profession-wide commitment to reverse nature loss

Author: ICAEW

Published: 04 Mar 2022

The chief executives of 10 of the world’s leading accountancy institutes, including ICAEW and ICAS in the UK, have joined together to support a new call to action in response to the nature crisis, ahead of the upcoming UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) COP 15.

Working together as part of the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA), the CEOs are signing the call to action ‘Nature is Everyone’s Business’ to signal the important role the profession plays in this crisis.

The member bodies of the GAA collectively represent over 1.4 million accountants and finance professionals in over 180 countries. The call to action involves advocating for and supporting the protection and restoration of nature through finance activities and investment decisions made by the business community. It ties in closely with the expectations of investors and other stakeholders for businesses to focus on environmental, social and governance issues – expectations that will only become stronger in the longer term.

The joint statement calls upon professional accountants to act now to reverse the process of nature loss by helping the organisations they work for or with to protect, restore and promote the sustainability of natural resources. The statement summarises six key actions for professional accountants, including understanding how their organisations and clients impact and rely on nature. Professional accountants can also provide sound advice and services that contribute to an organisation’s positive effect on nature.

In a united statement, the GAA CEOs said: “We recognise that our planet is being impacted by a three-fold crisis of a climate emergency, dramatic nature loss and rising social inequality. Addressing these challenges will require integrated thinking as companies reallocate resources, reorient production and reimagine their business models. We all depend on nature, but it is the poorest in the world who are disproportionately affected by its loss and impacted by climate change. Protecting nature must be a key consideration as we collectively move forward.”

At the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP 15 in April/May 2022, the world has the opportunity to adopt a transformative international agreement on nature, and both businesses and governments must be included.

“There is growing demand for sustainability and conservation,” says Jim Knafo, Chief Executive Officer, Global Accounting Alliance. “We are at a pivotal moment and the global accounting profession must be part of the solution going forward because nature is everyone’s business.”

Bruce Cartwright CA, CEO of ICAS said: “Chartered accountants can – and should – make a meaningful difference to the protection and restoration of nature. From working with their organisations and clients on strong corporate governance, to championing sustainable decision-making, we have a crucial role to play in reversing the process of nature loss as our planet continues to face the effects of climate change. At ICAS, we are embedding sustainability into the heart of our strategy and operations, and we are proud to be collaborating with our global accountancy colleagues in this vital call to action.”

Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive, said: “It is abundantly clear that the nature loss crisis will have a catastrophic impact on business value, in addition to the already unfolding human tragedy. While tough economic conditions and rising energy costs may tempt us to veer away from this strong course of action, it will only delay the problems facing our planet to the very near future. Therefore we must act now, and chartered accountants - with their skills, experience and close ties to the business community - will have a key role to play in protecting and restoring nature.

As part of their joint statement, the GAA CEOs are committing to: “Working with governments to establish and align coherent policy frameworks that accelerate business action to reverse the process of nature loss; build the profession’s knowledge, understanding and awareness of nature loss; and provide professional accountants with training, support and infrastructure to value and embed nature in decision-making and disclosure.”

The CEOs are also supporting the alignment of consistent global regulation and globally accepted disclosure frameworks that integrate nature, people and climate into corporate reporting.

The 10 accounting bodies that have signed the statement are:

  • The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants representing AICPA & CIMA
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
  • Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada)
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
  • Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • ICAS (the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland)
  • Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer in Deutschland e.V. (IDW)
  • The Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (JICPA)
  • South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)