Proposal: Connect Sustainable Activities and Financial Reports

BY MATTHEW G. LAMOREAUX
December 23, 2009

Representatives of more than 20 organizations including the AICPA agreed last week on a proposal to form a committee that would oversee development of an integrated reporting model. The model would connect reporting of organizations’ strategy, risk and financial and sustainability performance.

 

The proposals were the outcome of a London meeting of the Accounting for Sustainability Forum hosted by the Prince of Wales. “Sustainability is a global issue,” said AICPA Senior Vice President Arleen Thomas, who represented the Institute at the meeting. “Participation with other major accounting bodies in international groups like the Accounting for Sustainability Project is essential to success in providing thought leadership and influence in this emerging area.”

 

The members of the forum agreed that part of the problem is that numerous organizations are developing standards but no single organization is coordinating the efforts. “Businesses and investors both need universally accepted standards and frameworks that reduce complexity and provide consistent comparable information,” says AICPA Technical Manager Ken Witt, who was part of the Institute’s delegation.

 

As a result, the group proposed that accountability for the oversight and development of the reporting model should rest with a single body. However, that single body, which the proposal calls an International Connected Reporting Committee, would not be responsible for developing accounting standards. Instead, it would “provide strategic oversight and be a source of guidance in relation to the reporting model.”

 

The proposal says the committee would:

 

  • Provide vision and identify key elements and how they need to interlink to provide insight and understanding;
  • Provide a road map to support the model’s development;
  • Establish structures and mechanisms to achieve collaboration between existing organizations in order to enhance connectivity and reduce proliferation;
  • Identify emerging issues that may demand a global solution and future incorporation into the reporting framework; and
  • Sponsor and coordinate research across all aspects of the model so as to inform and shape its development.

 

The proposal concludes by saying, “It is hoped that action to establish an ‘International Connected Reporting Committee’ will have been taken by the end of 2010.” To that end, it provides next steps, including establishing a working group comprising representatives of interested organizations, developing the governance structure for the committee and achieving broader support for the proposals among key stakeholder groups.

 

—Matthew G. Lamoreaux ( mlamoreaux@aicpa.org) is a JofA senior editor.

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