January 17, 2020
UN Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure Recommendations

A recently published report offers a new approach for businesses to improve their corporate reporting on some of the world’s most imminent challenges, such as poverty, inequality, and climate change.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sit at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, providing the blueprint for a more sustainable future.

ICAS joined other leading accounting bodies as they called for corporate and asset owner action, along with improved reporting on SDGs. This was done in an attempt to hit the 17 goals that have been set for 2030. The recommendations are set out in the report, Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations, which was put together by Carol Adams, Professor of Accounting; Paul Druckman, and Russell Picot, who are both Honorary Professors at Durham University Business School.

Sustainability Reports jointly published the report, entitled Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations, alongside global accountancy bodies such as the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA); Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Chartered Accountants ANZ), the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), and the World Benchmarking Alliance.

The “SDGD Recommendations” offer a new approach for businesses, as well as other organisations, to address sustainable development issues that are aligned with the three most influential reporting frameworks in the world today. They attempt to establish a best practice for corporate reporting on SDGs and enable more effective, standardised reporting and transparency on climate change, social, and other environmental impacts.

The SDGD Recommendations were developed through consultation with accounting and finance professionals, sustainability experts, academics, consultants, framework and standard setters, asset owners and managers, and civil society participants.

Responses to the consultation were published in Sustainable Development Goals Disclosure (SDGD) Recommendations: Feedback on the consultation. They prove strong support for an alignment between the SDGD Recommendations and other key reporting frameworks and standards, such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, the Global Reporting Initiative, and the International Integrated Reporting Council. Generally, respondents agreed that accountability for value destruction and negative impacts are essential going forward.

The SDGD Recommendations call on organisations to consider sustainable development risks and opportunities which are relevant to their individual long-term value creation strategies. It also calls on these organisations to better communicate the actual or potential impacts on achievement of the SDGs. Both of these processes require relevant and material disclosures about factors that have an impact on long-term value creation, both for the organisation and society as a whole, or that have an impact, both positive and negative, on the achievement of the SDGs in the annual report.

Awareness is growing in business and investment communities around the health and wellbeing of the planet, and the impact this has on its people and the longer-term success of business. The SDGs offer an opportunity to come together and tackle this as a community; it’s essential that there is a change in what and how business is done. One key for driving change is the requirement for a statement from the Board Chair, outlining that the Board accepts responsibility for the SDG Disclosures in the annual report.

These Recommendations are based upon a five-step approach for contributing to the SDGs, aligned with long-term value creation and previously developed by Professor Adams and published by the IIRC and ICAS.

The ICAS Sustainability Panel identified the SDGs as one of its key pursuits, and has produced a series of articles that highlight the importance and relevance of the SDGs to the accounting profession.

Download the report (pdf)

Source: Sustainability Reports