A new report by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) explores the concept of a ‘green economy’, and its relevance in Asia. It brings together the views of companies, investors, NGOs and accountants from across Asia and demonstrates the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to sustainability.
Gordon Hewitt, sustainability advisor at ACCA, said: 'The transition to a green economy cannot be achieved by any one group alone, and requires the collaborative efforts of a range of stakeholders. Governments need to set policies and regulations that promote green growth; investors need to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) into their decision making and capital allocation decisions; companies need to develop goods and services that minimise environmental and social impacts; and civil society needs to engage on the topic and demand accountability from governments and corporations.'
The report follows a series of events that took place earlier in 2012 in four cities across Asia - Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Beijing. These events drew together representatives from a range of leading NGOs, business organisations, corporations and the accountancy firms and were held in partnership with the international NGO, WWF.
It makes a case for green economic governance, and demonstrates how governments need to develop new metrics that go beyond GDP if they want to create the necessary incentives for investors and companies to adopt more sustainable practices. Such arguments echo the conclusions of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, which took place in June 2012.
The report also highlights that the business case for sustainability is gaining momentum in Asia and leading companies are integrating sustainability into their corporate culture and decision-making processes. The benefits of doing so include more resilient supply chains; a lower dependence on natural resources leading to lower input costs; and increased sales, as customers within Asia and from around the world are now considering sustainability in their purchase decisions. Accountants, as key members of the business and finance community, are well placed to help companies realise these benefits.
Gordon Hewitt concludes: 'ACCA believes that accountants have an important role to play in assisting companies to adopt green economic practices. The core skills and experience of accountants will be valuable to companies seeking to measure and report on their environmental and social impact.'