Introduction and Background
Sustainability and Business
Sustainability is an important issue for business today. Its importance is recognised in a changing world where natural resources are under pressure from climate change, increasing population and increasing destruction of biodiversity from human activity.
Society expects businesses to be accountable and responsible for their impact on natural resources and on the communities in which they operate. Organisations themselves need sustainability information to make informed business decisions. External stakeholders also need this information to form a holistic view of an organization. This is supported by the King Code of Governance Principles for South Africa 2009 (King III) that an integrated report is a holistic and integrated representation of the company's performance in terms of both its finances and its sustainability.
It is essential for organisations to consider sustainability when making business decisions.
The Role of Chartered Accountants (CAs)
Chartered Accountants CAs (SA) have an important role to play. They are increasingly being called upon to provide such information, to build sustainability into business strategies and operations, to report on sustainability, and to provide assurance on sustainability reports. CAs (SA) indeed have a crucial role to play in expanding this reporting arena.
Accounting bodies around the world are working on sustainability issues. As member bodies of IFAC it is incumbent on them to inform their members of sustainability issues, and to ensure their members understand the implications of issues like climate change on business practice and reporting.
The role of SAICA
Sustainability is a key thought leadership area forming part of SAICA's strategy. Our dedicated www.sustainabilitysa.org website is our main information hub. It provides a relevant information source for members and business users and it is regularly updated. A wide range of issues are covered - from sustainability reporting and integrated reporting to environmental taxes. The website is also home to the official web pages of the Integrated Reporting Committee (IRC) in South Africa.
SAICA is an accredited training partner of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and we hold training courses throughout the year. The GRI is widely regarded as the 'de facto' standard for sustainability reporting.
SAICA issued a publication Green written by Graham Terry, and is a regular contributor to financial publications on sustainability and integrated reporting.
SAICA was instrumental in founding the Integrated Reporting Committee (IRC). The Committee is chaired by Professor Mervyn King .This multi-organisation Committee includes
- ASISA (Association of Savings and Investment SA),
- BUSA (Business Unity South Africa)
- The Institute of Internal Auditors
- JSE Ltd
- Principal Officers Association
- Government Employees Pension Fund
- BASA (The Banking Association of South Africa)
- CSSA (Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa)
- The Seriti Institute
- IoDSA (the Institute of Directors SA)