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By Craig Vickery, head of ACCA Scotland

The current drive towards better environmental accountability by the world’s businesses – through measurement and reporting – comes at a time when the future of corporate reporting is the subject of intense debate, in particular its complexity and increasing disclosure requirements.

ACCA believes that the accounting profession has an important role to play in encouraging sustainability. I was delighted to host a roundtable at Durham University where we were joined by a panel of academics and other interested parties to discuss the future of environmental reporting and the role that the accounting profession should play in encouraging sustainability.


Our discussions revealed a big question mark around the value of the annual report, with recent ACCA research showing that two-thirds of investors place greater value on information they found elsewhere. There is also widespread acknowledgement that the biggest problem around sustainability is that it is not easily measurable. The real cost of an industrial accident is a life, or irreparable damage to the ecosystem – how do you place a value that?

Looking to the future

One of the strongest forces in better environmental reporting is Generation Y, particularly the new graduates entering the workplace. This generation has a strong interest in green issues and has the potential to radically influence sustainability reporting in the future. Companies need to harness this passion and let new ideas flow into the company.

Sustainability must also be embedded into a company’s business strategy – and this will only happen when there is buy-in at board level. This should be driven by a non-executive director with a strong environmental record.

For a more in-depth analysis read our roundtable summary.