A4S Wales is an initiative committed to promoting the aims of The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) in Wales: as HRH The Prince of Wales said, “To help ensure that sustainability – considering what we do not only in terms of ourselves and today, but also of others and tomorrow – is not just talked and worried about, but becomes embedded in organizations’ “DNA”.” The accounting institutes (ACCA, AAT, CIMA, CIPFA and ICAEW) have collaborated with the Sustainable Development Commission in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and A4S to help to inform the embedding of sustainability within business reporting and organizational behaviour in organizations across Wales.
A4S Wales provides a portal for information for accountancy professionals and businesses alike on sustainability reporting and sustainable development and organizes a range of activity to support this. Click here for further details of A4S Wales events, resources and news.
Issues for organizations: how accountants can help
When the immediate financial crisis is past, the ‘sustainability crisis’ will remain. The accounting profession and many others are gradually recognising that, if not already at the tipping point beyond which irreversible climate change will occur, then we are very nearly at that point, with the resultant costs for business and society that we know, with a high degree of certainty, will ensue. The immediacy of these impacts demands broad-based action.
There is a major role for the accounting profession to play in developing strategies and solutions in response to issues such as the carbon challenge. The Forum is determined to play a leading role in promoting approaches to these strategies in Wales.
For example, as we encounter more frequent instances of energy shortages and other natural resource constraints, and as emissions trading schemes and environmental taxation regimes become the norm rather than the exception, accountants must learn the language of environmental finance and become adept at identifying and choosing between price-sensitive alternative sources.
The issue of sustainability however goes far beyond the impact of climate change and carbon. Each organisation or business has an impact on its community and the world around it. It is increasingly recognised that good governance demands that organisations act as responsible members of their communities, promoting not only the environmental sustainability of these communities but also ensuring that they have a positive social impact and act in the interests of society.
This activity, generically referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly important as consumers, shareholders and other stakeholders begin to make choices based on the activities of companies and organisations and their approach to CSR. Accounting will be key to helping organisations address the challenges of balancing financial, environmental and social sustainability and accountants have a vital role to play in promoting the benefits of such activity.
The Welsh Assembly Government is one of only a few governments throughout the world with a legal duty to have regard to and promote sustainable development. We believe that this poses a particular opportunity for the accountancy profession to work with the Welsh Assembly Government to help ensure not only that Wales is at the forefront of promoting sustainable development, but also that organisations in Wales have the tools and information necessary to address the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.