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.

Key messages

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.