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How can chartered accountants help shape a greener, fairer, more resilient future?

Author: ICAEW Scotland

Published: 06 Sep 2021

ICAEW Scotland held a half day workshop on 22 June 2021 to address the topic of “business and sustainability”, to identify ways in which chartered accountants can take action to help to deliver a sustainable future aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report, written collaboratively by ICAEW Scotland Sustainability Group, summarises the views of those who joined the workshop and offers thoughts, links and practical steps. It is the start of the journey, not the destination.

Key messages

  • Accountants must recognise that the culture in which business operates is changing and needs to change further.
  • As chartered accountants we can and need to apply our analytical skills to understanding and reporting the true impacts of an organisation's actions on the planet, on people and on financial performance.
  • Our reporting must capture holistically what society values, looking beyond financial returns.
  • To improve decision making by all stakeholders this expanded range of information must be as reliable and transparent as the financial information we have traditionally provided.
  • Sustainable economies require peaceful societies with reducing inequalities, and where strong institutions, like ICAEW, hold governments to account and maintain robust frameworks for corporate governance.

It was concluded that now is the time to act. We need to take a more proactive approach than may have been the case in the past, in which our role has been seen to be more supportive, and quite frankly passive. In essence the role is to be business-smart and regulation aware. However, it can be much more. We can, and should be meaningful influencers, with government bodies and other institutions, to shape the policies and strategies to set the right framework for actions for change.

So, join the conversation with fellow members in Scotland on the ICAEW Scotland LinkedIn Group (open to all ICAEW members and students in Scotland).

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