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Public Sector Conference

The road to net zero - 10 December 2021

The first ever ICAEW public sector conference will be a virtual event focussing on sustainability. The conference will feature high profile speakers, provide attendees with practical tips and demonstrate the importance of the public sector in achieving net zero.

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The conference will raise the profile of and demonstrate the importance of the public sector in achieving net zero.


Get practical ideas of initiating sustainability projects locally, incorporating greater consideration of climate issues.


Be part of an interesting and informative day with a variety of expert speakers.


Join planned smaller group sessions specific to different relevant roles.

This event gave a good overview of the confused and underdeveloped state of net zero progress reporting and related audit. Time well spent for accountants and auditors wanting to ensure their work is fit for purpose and relevant in the coming decades.

Public Sector Conference 2021 delegate

The programme

Opening remarks
ICAEW Chief Executive Michael Izza will open the conference by explaining the importance of the public sector and net zero to ICAEW.
Keynote: The role of public sector financial reporting and audit in achieving net zero
For the opening keynote address, ICAEW is delighted to welcome Adrian Crompton, the Auditor General for Wales and head of the Wales Audit Office. Adrian will talk about his commitment that Audit Wales will use its role to “scrutinise and inspire improvement in climate change action across the Welsh public sector”. He will also answer questions on the role public sector reporting and audit more generally can support the public sector achieve the government’s ambitious target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Panel discussion: Better public sector sustainability reporting post COP26
As requirements increase on private sector companies, there will be a need for public sector bodies to improve their sustainability reporting. Chaired by Alison Ring, the panel of finance leaders will include Veronica Poole, Deloitte Global IFRS leader, Conrad Hall, Director of Finance and Resources at Newham Borough Council and Tom Taylor, Chief Finance Officer at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Discussion groups: What can I do to support the path to net zero?
These interactive sessions will offer delegates a chance to share ideas and obtain practical tips over what you can do in your role to support the path to net zero. Facilitators include ICAEW’s Richard Spencer discussing the role finance students can play in supporting net zero; Alan Finch from the Local Government Association, looking at how audit committee members and councillors can scrutinise how effectively their local authority is decarbonising; Network Rail’s Pete Leadbetter will cover the role government finance teams can play; Emma Jones from Ashden will lead a discussion on how green procurement and community wealth building can play in achieving their net zero targets; and Alison Snellen and Nicola Cotter will focus on sustainability assurance. Sign up for your preferred session when you book.
Lunch break
Panel discussion: How can central government support local government in achieving net zero?
One of the authors of the recent NAO study that highlighted weakness in the government’s approach to working with local authorities on decarbonisation will be joined by 3 experts different perspectives to discuss how central government can better support local government in the path to net zero. Chaired by ICAEW’s Henning Diederichs, the panel will include Katy Losse, Manager for Environmental Studies at the NAO, Jo Wheeler, Senior Sustainability Adviser at UK Green Building Council, Cara Jenkinson, Cities Manager at Ashden Climate Solutions and Kate Hand, Head of Climate Change at London Councils.
Keynote: Why public sector bodies must take the lead on the path to net zero?
Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, will deliver the closing keynote address. He will provide a rallying call of why public sector bodies must take the lead in the path to net zero and inspire attendees to put into practice the practical tips that they have learnt throughout the day.
Closing remarks
Alison Ring, Director for Public Sector and Tax, ICAEW

* Please note that the programme is subject to change.


The importance of public sector in achieving net zero means we want to make this conference as accessible to all working in the public sector, whether ICAEW members or otherwise.

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Our speakers

Conrad Hall
Conrad Hall Corporate Director of Resources, London Borough of Newham

Conrad has 20 years’ senior financial management experience in London local authorities, the last ten of which have been in chief finance officer roles. He’s a former winner of the Accountancy Age UK Accountant of the Year award, for his work in transforming Lambeth Council. He also chairs the CIPFA/LASAAC board, which is responsible for financial reporting and accounting standards for UK local government.

Michael Izza
Michael Izza Chief Executive, ICAEW

Appointed Chief Executive in 2006, Michael's leadership has seen ICAEW embrace a vision of 'a World of Strong Economies', transforming itself into a professional accountancy body with a truly global identity and reach. He regularly meets ministers, policymakers and regulators around the world, and is a frequent media commentator on economic and business issues.

Tony Juniper
Tony Juniper CBE, Chair, Natural England

Tony is the Chair of the official nature conservation agency Natural England. Previously he was the Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF-UK and President of the Wildlife Trusts. He was the Special Advisor for The Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit and Executive Director at Friends of the Earth.

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Adrian Crompton Auditor General for Wales

As head of the Wales Audit Office, Adrian oversees the annual audit of some £20 billion of taxpayers’ money and is appointed on an eight-year term. Most of Adrian’s career has been spent supporting parliamentary democracy at a Welsh, UK and international level. Prior to his current appointment, he held various senior roles within the National Assembly for Wales and, before then, in the House of Commons.

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Alison Snellen Manager, Climate Change and Sustainability Services, Ernst & Young

Alison is a Manager in Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS), focusing on climate risk, ESG reporting and the energy transition. Her key projects including providing limited assurance over non-financial information, supporting clients on TCFD reporting and supporting the EY audit practice to consider climate-related risks as part of their financial audit. She is a trained auditor and ICAEW qualified.

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Nicola Cotter Senior Manager, EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services team

Nicola is a sustainability, climate and development specialist with 13+ years of experience advising clients in both the private and public sectors. She has supported organisations in the areas of CNZ strategy, forestry governance and policy, climate finance, international development, responsible investment, ethical supply chain and social/environmental impact assessments.

Veronic Poole
Veronica Poole Global IFRS Leader NSE Head of Accounting and Corporate Reporting

Veronica is a vice chair of Deloitte UK, and Global IFRS and Corporate Reporting leader. She leads Deloitte’s contributions to the WEF IBC Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics, and has facilitated the work of the leading sustainability standard-setters to develop a prototype climate standard, helped launch the UK Directors’ Climate Forum—Chapter Zero, and spearheaded Deloitte’s partnership with the A4S Finance for the Future Awards.

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Tom Taylor Chief Financial Officer, BEIS

Prior to joining BEIS, Tom held finance director positions in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Office of Rail and Road. Tom has been a civil servant since 1994, joining the Department of Social Security initially as an economist and then policy adviser. He worked as an academic researcher before joining the Civil Service.

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Jo Wheeler Senior Manager, Local Policy and Retrofit, UK Green Building Council

Jo has over 20 years’ experience working on a wide range of sustainable building policy and practice issues, both in the UK and internationally. Jo is currently leading UKGBC’s work on home retrofit, focusing specifically on enabling and supporting local government leadership in this area.

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Katy Losse Manager for Environmental Studies, National Audit Office

Katy recently led a value-for-money study examining how central government and local authorities are collaborating on net zero, which was published in July 2021. Over the course of a 16-year career at the NAO, Katy worked on a wide range of value for money reports, returning in recent years to focus on work related to government's approach to its climate and wider environmental goals.

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Cara Jenkinson Cities Manager, Ashden

Cara manages the alumni network of 90 UK-based Ashden Award winners across sustainable buildings, transport and energy, helping them to scale up their work, and to embed their approach into policy and practice. She is co-author of Ashden’s toolkit for local authorities, and is Ashden's representative on the Blueprint Coalition, which is calling for a locally-based green recovery.

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Kate Hand Head of Climate Change, London Councils

Kate is Head of Climate Change at London Councils, a cross-party organisation working on behalf of London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London. She leads the organisation’s work on climate policy, the seven collaborative borough programmes on climate, and key external relationships in this space. Previously, she spent a decade working in environmental policy, including at RSPB, Wildlife and Countryside Link and the Community Development Foundation.

Alison Ring, ICAEW's Director, Public Sector
Alison Ring FCA Director for Public Sector and Tax, ICAEW

Alison joined ICAEW in 2019 and leads ICAEW’s policy and technical work examining the public sector. After completing a law degree and qualifying with a medium-sized accountancy firm, she worked in practice for several years before joining HMRC in 1994. She spent 25 years there and ended her career as the Commissioners’ Advisory Accountant.

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Oliver Simms Manager, Public Sector Audit & Assurance, ICAEW

Before joining ICAEW, Oliver worked at the National Audit Office, where he held a variety of audit lead and manager roles of government bodies over six years, including the Department for International Trade and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He is passionate about wildlife and the environment and has volunteered for several conservation charities.

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Alan Finch Principal Adviser, Local Government Association

Alan is Principal Adviser responsible for finance improvement programmes at the Local Government Association. He has worked in local government since 1981, a period of great change. His last council role was as finance director at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. He has worked at the LGA since 2013 in a roles relating to policy, relationship management and support for councils in productivity, governance and finance.

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Pete Leadbetter Head of Accounting, Network Rail

Pete is Head of Accounting at Network Rail looking after statutory accounting, consolidating Network Rail into the Department for Transport, technical accounting and technical training. Pete trained in audit in Robson Rhodes/Grant Thornton before spending 7 years in their technical team. Pete also worked at Connells Estate Agent for 2 years looking after all financial reporting across the group.

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Emma Jones City Region Lead, Ashden

Emma is part of Ashden's cities team, where she leads Ashden's City Region/Combined Authority sustainability network and was lead author on the Ashden climate action co-benefits toolkit. Emma has worked in environmental sustainability for over 25 years, focussing on supporting local government and their partners to reduce carbon emissions.

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Henning Diederichs Manager, Public Sector Financial Reporting, ICAEW

Henning worked in financial reporting roles at Barclays and the Ministry of Finance prior to joining ICAEW in 2015. In recent years Henning has focused on public sector financial reporting standards and is the technical advisor to the UK member on the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB).

Richard Spencer
Richard Spencer Director of Technical Thought Leadership and Head of Sustainability, ICAEW

Richard joined ICAEW in 2005 to set up the sustainability practice within the technical strategy department. During this time Richard has led on the ICAEW’s thought leadership and engagement programme in sustainability.

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