Sustainability reporting and audit vary widely, says study
A new benchmarking study on global sustainability reporting and assurance practices highlights significant differences between jurisdictions. These extend to the reporting frameworks and methods used as well as the prevalence and level of assurance and the type of practitioner providing the service. The report, on ‘The State of Play In Sustainability Assurance,’ comes from the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the AICPA & CIMA (representing the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants). While we doubt our readers – following the ongoing global efforts to harmonise reporting standards – will be surprised by a lack of standardisation, the study provides a useful picture of the current state of affairs, including 22 individual jurisdiction profiles.
“The global community needs to consider many complex questions—should reporting sustainability information be required? If so, should assurance be required, and by whom?” says IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey, noting that the data opens the way for evidence-based conversations and debate.
Of the 1,400 companies reviewed, 91% report some level of sustainability information, but only 51% of those provide any assurance on it. This highlights the increasingly pressing need to establish audit approaches to ensure the quality of sustainability data, and avert what the report identifies as an emerging investor protection and financial stability risk.