Global Survey of Sustainability Accounting Practices Released

Leading Accounting Bodies Issue Report Through the Prince’s
Accounting for Sustainability Project

London, New York, - The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA),
the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and
the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) released a
landmark survey measuring the state of accounting for
sustainability in the UK and North America.

CIMA, AICPA, and CICA surveyed organizational leaders from their
respective memberships and conducted interviews with sustainability
executives from leading organizations to examine key
characteristics of business sustainability, and the level of
finance function involvement in corporate sustainability

Charles Tilley, CIMA’s Chief Executive, commented:  “We are
pleased to see CIMA’s members spearheading green practices, with 81
percent of our respondents from large companies reporting that
their organization’s sustainability strategies address climate

The joint work with the AICPA and CICA through the Prince of
Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project has enabled us to
share our research and best practice with the other member bodies,
he added.

The three accounting organizations are all founding members of
the Accounting Bodies Network of the Prince’s Accounting for
Sustainability Project meeting in London today.

“Canada’s CA profession is well positioned to illuminate the
relationship between effective social and environmental stewardship
and bottom-line performance,” said Lisa French, principal, guidance
and support, CICA.

“We have long been active in this field and our participation
will grow as more organizations recognize that ongoing business
success requires sustainable practices. Sustainability is not a
one-size-fits-all proposition and accountants can help
organizations develop the required infrastructure for effective
strategic planning and corporate reporting.”

AICPA Senior Vice President for Member Competency and
Development Arleen Thomas said:  “As companies both large and
small incorporate environmental and social considerations into
their strategies for long-term business success, U.S. CPAs and
other professional accountants have an important role to

The survey report highlights the important work that we have to
do in the accounting profession which is why the AICPA is taking a
leadership role in the U.S. and collaborating with CIMA, CICA and
the Prince’s Project to provide global thought leadership and
services to help our members develop skills and competence in
sustainability accounting and reporting, he added.

Business sustainability is about
ensuring that organizations implement environmental, social and
economic strategies that contribute to long-term

The report notes that organizations that act in a sustainable
manner not only help maintain the well-being of the planet and
people, they also create businesses that will survive and thrive in
the long run. Leading companies recognize that sustainability
performance translates to successful bottom-line business
performance, and that investors are attracted to companies that act
in a sustainable manner with a focus on long-term profitability and
competitive advantage.

Key findings

  • Compliance with regulatory requirements remains the most common
    driver of business sustainability (34 percent of large
    organizations and 24 percent of smaller organizations,
    respectively) with profitability and other strategic factors
    reported as being increasingly significant.  After compliance,
    the next most critical drivers differed between large and small

  • 32 percent of large organizations identified managing
    reputational risk 19 percent of smaller companies identified cost
    cutting efficiency.Large companies have more robust sustainability

  • 79 percent of larger companies currently have a formal
    sustainability strategy, compared to 33 percent of smaller
    companies, however, an additional 23 percent of smaller companies
    have plans to formulate a strategy within the next 2 years. The
    finance function’s contributions to organizational sustainability
    programs are highly valued, yet underdeveloped:

  • 56 percent of respondents said that finance play a role in
    business case/investment analysis. 33 percent are tracking
    sustainability related performance measures. UK-based organizations
    appear to be ahead of the curve in terms of implementing
    sustainability practices and finance function involvement compared
    to North American organizations.

In an increasingly global community, where economic,
environmental, and social issues transcend national and corporate
boundaries, 21st century solutions will require a coordinated
response by the public and private sectors.  Long-term
business success will require that sustainable practices be deeply
embedded in the “DNA” of all organizations. 

As companies innovate to better secure their long-term
viability, the accounting profession will play an important role.
Accountants can serve as leading agents for change by applying
their skills and competencies to develop sustainable strategies and
facilitate effective implementation, accurate measurement, and
credible business reporting.

The study is available online (href=””


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