Supporting the global profession
Accountancy professionals' role in meeting the demand from investors for delivering sustainability assurance
In this report we provide insights about the key challenges currently faced in meeting rapidly increasing demand from investors for delivering sustainability assurance.
Our findings are supported by evidence gathered from a series of virtual roundtables with practitioners experienced in providing sustainability assurance, and with global representation of the profession, together with other representatives involved with audit and assurance policy-related matters.
The report provides an overview of the current landscape for sustainability assurance, a fast-growing area for professional accountants and others, and introduces the extant standard and guidance for sustainability assurance published by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). It also discusses the skills and competencies required for undertaking sustainability engagements.
Corporate reporting evolution
The emergence of sustainability information dissemination – along with the associated requirement for assurance – marks a significant evolution of corporate reporting. Investors want to trust the information that is presented to them. That means increasing attention must be paid to how assurance is provided.
The report underlines how these developments represent both a challenge and a huge opportunity for the accountancy profession.
As well as looking at the current landscape, the report examines sustainability assurance using the extant standard and guidance, looking at areas such as ethics, quality management, competence and capabilities, professional scepticism and judgement, planning and performing the engagement, obtaining evidence and forming the assurance conclusion.
The report offers key messages drawn from the research and priority focus areas for the IAASB and national standard-setters, as well as identifying challenges in practice.
The conclusion of the report is that while more work is required, the accountancy professionals, as well as others performing assurance engagements, are well placed to meet this rapidly increasing demand for sustainability assurance.
Closing the expectation gap in audit (2019))
Professional accountants changing business for the planet
Closing the expectation gap in audit (2021)
Double materiality in the frame
Companies’ readiness to adopt IFRS S2, Climate-related disclosures
Accountability (2023), Various standards downloadable here
Professional scepticism and cognitive biases in audit
Supporting the global profession
"Unlike financial reporting, which focuses mainly on an entity’s financial statements, sustainability reporting is currently still under development and, while it usually involves entities’ reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters, there is still no universally accepted definition"Marianna Rogdaki, audit and ethics lead – policy and insights, ACCA
"ACCA recognises that owing to the high volume of information involved, it can be overwhelming for those interested in finding out relevant details or being involved in a sustainability assurance engagement. They do not know where to start"Antonis Diolas, head of audit and assurance, ACCA