Sustainability assurance

The climate emergency and BEIS White Paper on restoring trust in audit and corporate governance are creating a landscape where sustainability is rapidly becoming as mainstream as financial controls for assurance providers.

Mandatory sustainability reporting is gaining pace such as TCFD reporting within financial services and the wide-reaching BEIS governance reform proposals.

As transparency demands increase, so does the risk of reporting inaccurate or incomplete data. Independent assurance is critical. Now is the time for CAEs to have clarity and purpose regarding the role of internal audit in providing assurance across a wide range of non-financial data including sustainability reporting.

Join us as we recap on the topic of sustainability assurance and invite you to look afresh at what you are doing today and whether it is enough.

Is sustainability the same as CSR?

In a word - no - it is important to understand the difference as they are often interchanged.

In the 90s early advocates proposed the triple bottom line, broadening the focus of financial reporting to include social responsibility and environmental impact in addition to economic value. The challenges of measuring these constructs financially led to organisations adopting CSR (corporate social responsibility) reporting; a narrative style with occasional targets and financial information.

Sustainability is more specific, it is about operating to ‘meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’, the concept of environmental fair play, producing goods and services in a way that avoids depleting natural resources that cannot be replaced. Natural resources are not renewable yet they are an essential component of many industries; heating in healthcare, sand in construction, oil in logistics.

CSR reports traditionally look at performance over the last year against often self-declared targets and whilst covering the same issues, the context,…

"Cherish the natural world, because you’re a part of it and you depend on it"

- Sir David Attenborough