Recommended Reading

The resources below are regularly updated and aim to help SMPs in sustainability issues:

Corporate Disclosures
See here for a summary of news for the week ending 4 November 2022, here for the week ending 11 November 2022 and here for the week ending 19 November 2022.

SMPs and the Sustainability Agenda
The article ’SMPs and The Sustainability Agenda’ (published on pages 16-18 of the latest issue of the Association of International Accountants’ (AIA) magazine) stresses the urgent need for building the capacity of SMEs and SMPs to prepare sustainability reports (24 October 2022)

Accuracy of Sustainability Reporting
This article examines the reliability of the information contained in sustainability reports and the role of accounting firms in verifying the disclosures (19 October 2022)

Corporate Disclosures
Recent articles on Touching the Void of Sustainability Reporting (27 September), Single vs Double Materiality: An Academic Debate (28 September), and Double Materiality will not Lead to Hyperinflation of ESG Data (13 October).

Guidance – Expand Your Sustainability Know-how
IFAC has a catalogue of publicly available sustainability courses and certifications offered by PAOs on demand either for a fee or at no cost, to help their members gain sustainability knowledge (22 September 2022)

Guidance – GHG Protocol
Read this report to learn more about the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, how its standards are used to measure GHG emissions, and implications for standard setters and regulators.

Guidance – SMPs Embracing Sustainability Assurance
This publication has been released to help SMPs embrace sustainability assurance.

Guidance – How SMPs Can Seize the ESG Opportunity
In this article read about how US SMPs are seizing the ESG opportunity. Staffing and training remain a challenge (1 October 2022)

Guidance – Expand Your Sustainability Know-how
Several professional accountancy organizations have already developed or are in the process of developing courses and certifications to help their membership and the profession acquire sustainability knowledge. IFAC has a catalogue of courses and certifications here that will help accelerate the collective pace of acquiring sustainability knowledge. These resources are publicly available; most are on demand, either for a fee or at no cost (22 September 2022)

Guidance – Climate Transition and Closing Net Zero Information GapView IFAC’s global webinar ‘Finance Leaders Plugging the Net-Zero Information Gap: Exploring the critical role of CFOs and finance teams in the climate transition’ here. Related articles include:  
– Net Zero Guidance, A4S  
– Professional Accountants as Business Leaders and Value Partners, IFAC  
– Sustainability Standards, IFAC  
– Corporate Reporting: Climate Change Information and the 2021 Reporting Cycle, IFAC (7 September 2022)

Guidance – IT Risks Auditors Should Know
Organizations increasingly rely on IT for internal operations and when engaging with external service providers. Read this article to learn about auditors’ responsibilities related to their client’s IT environment and the related general information technology controls (7 September 2022)

Guidance on ESG Data Production
The UK FRC Lab has published a report on ESG data production, designed to help companies consider how to collect and use ESG data more effectively to support better decision-making. The full report is available here (2 September 2022)

Guidance on ESG Reporting for Finance Teams
The article 5 steps for finance teams to upskill on ESG reporting explains that the move towards mandatory ESG reporting will require finance to assess the knowledge already in the team and new expertise needed — at the outset (22 August 2022)

Guidance – How SMPs Can Get Started with ESG
This article highlights five essential steps all firms should take to be ESG ready (25 August 2022)

SMPs Should Explore ESG
This AICPA article urges accounting firms to seriously consider providing ESG advisory and assurance. It argues that our profession is built to provide these services and instil trust and integrity into the process, but we need a collective sense of urgency to step forward and meet this opportunity (August 2022)

Country Case Study: Romania
This article looks at how the Romanian accountancy profession is embracing sustainability reporting and how the professional accountancy organizations are helping prepare their members (22 August 2022)

Connectivity of Financial and Non-Financial Reporting: In this article Mervyn King looks at how Integrated Reporting can help connect financial and non-financial reporting (11 July 2022)

Net Zero Impossible Without SMEs: this article  argues that net zero is not possible without SMEs and so policy makers will need to focus more on SMEs and SME greening will demand collective action (27 June 2022)

Practical Sustainability Toolkits for SMEs and SMPs: ACCA and Profit Impact published a series of practical sustainability toolkits for accountants in SMEs and SMPs supporting sustainable transition of small businesses. The toolkits offer hands-on guidance on mapping UN SDGs to business goals, understanding environmental management systems and supply chain code of conduct (26 June 2022)

Practical Sustainability Toolkits for SMEs and SMPs
ACCA and Profit Impact published a series of practical sustainability toolkits for accountants in SMEs and SMPs supporting sustainable transition of small businesses. The toolkits offer hands-on guidance on mapping UN SDGs to business goals, understanding environmental management systems and supply chain code of conduct (26 June 2022)

2021 IFAC Integrated Annual Review: read the 2021 IFAC Integrated Annual Review here. This report draws on integrated reporting principles and concepts as set out in the International Integrated Reporting <IR> Framework (15 June 2022)

Comparative Analysis of Sustainability Reporting Proposals
This Forbes article provides a comparative analysis of the three proposals from the ISSB, EFRAG and US Securities and Exchange Commission for climate-related disclosures (11 June 2022)

Corporate Disclosures – New Website Focuses on Sustainability Reporting: Vincent Huck, a financial correspondent with a long track history focused on developments in accountancy, has launched a new website as a platform for debate on sustainability reporting called Corporate Disclosures. In this opinion piece Kevin Dancey, IFAC CEO, and David Madon, IFAC Director of Public Policy & Regulation, discuss the rise of sustainability accounting and the opportunities for the profession. In this article EFRAG SR TEG member Patrick de Cambourg, who chaired the PTF-ESRS that developed the draft ESRS EDs, discusses the politics in sustainability standard setting. And on 11 July 2022 the website published Salvador Marin’s opening remarks from the EFRAG-EFAA-SMEunited Joint Outreach event on draft ESRS EDs.

IAASB Addresses Sustainability Assurance: In this article IAASB Chair Tom Seidenstein explains how the IAASB is taking the next steps for new standards for sustainability assurance (9 June 2022)

Research on Sustainability Assurance: This research paper examines assurance of sustainability information by Dutch listed companies and reveals much variation in the content of the assurance engagement, to whom the assurance report is addressed, and the criteria used to perform the assurance engagement. (2 June 2022)

ESG Exchange : Professor Mervyn King has established, within the Good Governance Academy, the ESG Exchange.  The ESG Exchange is a global community collaborating to help firms publish sustainability reports. (16 June 2022)

IFRS Sustainability Standards: Are You Ready?: Listen to this ACCA webcast about how to prepare for IFRS sustainability standards. (31 May 2022)

Financial Accounting as a Catalyst for the Circular Economy: this IFAC Gateway article (3 March 2022) summarizes a report, authored by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Chartered Accountants (NBA) amongst others, called Financial accounting in the circular economy: Redefining value, impact and risk to accelerate the circular transition, on how accounting and financing are catalysts for circular businesses to thrive and crucial to driving sustainable development. Scaling circular business models is the route to accelerating the circular transition, unlocking the profitability of businesses in a rapidly changing world and reaching key climate goals, such as net-zero. This report provides guidance to overcome the challenges and capture the value of circular business.

Integrated Thinking Principles: this article introduces the Integrated Thinking Principles (15 March 2022)

Future of Framework: in June 2022, the Value Reporting Foundation – home to the Integrated Thinking Principles, Integrated Reporting Framework and the SASB Standards – will consolidate under the IFRS Foundation, which is establishing the new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). This information sheet explains what this means for the Framework and the businesses that use it.

In this Reuters article, Huw Jones looks at the intersection of sustainability and audit/assurance – and includes the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) next steps in the space, and how often the ISAE 3000 standard is issued for sustainability reporting. (22 February 2022)

IFAC has launched a new podcast series, The Fast Future with IFAC, that highlights innovative SMPs around the world. The first episode, with Australian accountant and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand member Amela Kmetas, is available here (17 February 2022).

Audit tips for a pandemic-changed environment explains what firms should focus on (AICPA, 8 December 2021).

As part of its Accounting for the Future virtual conference 2021 (AFF2021) ACCA included a webinar on Golden opportunity of SMP sustainability services. This webcast is now on-demand here.  

How PAIBs Create Value: IFAC’s Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) Advisory Group has compiled insights on how accountants are contributing to value creation and sustainability in their organizations in both the private and public sectors in a new report, The Role of Accountants in Mainstreaming Sustainability

How SMEs can Create a More Sustainable World: ACCA and CA ANZ’s joint playbook, How SMEs can create a more sustainable world, details the benefits that sustainable actions have for both business success and the environment. The playbook sets out practical steps for embedding sustainable practices within SMEs, case studies from across the world, and links to a variety of tools and resources. See press release here. ACCA held an online event on “How SMEs can Create a More Sustainable World: A Live Panel Discussion” on 2 December – see here.

SMEunited Seek Support on Due Diligence: On 23 November 2021, at the webinar organised by ecoDa (the European Confederation of Directors’ Associations) and Mazars on “Sustainability – Action needed on the defining issue for SMEs across Europe” SMEunited Director Luc Hendrickx called for concrete and practical assistance on due diligence for SMEs. Read more here.

Auditing ESG Information: in this article learn how current auditing standards require environmental, social and governance (ESG) related risks to be considered, and auditors need to know how to audit this information.