Sustainability required to remain competitive

Thursday, 23 June, 2011


Organisations must embed environmental sustainability as a core strategy to remain competitive and survive the next 20 years, according to global accounting body the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).

While economic, population and climate movements for the next 20 years may be difficult to predict, ACCA says it is certain that business profits will be increasingly tied up with environmental and societal wellbeing.

“Those that view sustainability as a risk management issue and take the lead will have a definitive advantage in their sector in the years to come,” says Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) at La Trobe University, and Fellow of ACCA, Professor Carol Adams.

“Business does not operate in isolation from society and the environment. So much of the impact of business is near impossible to measure in dollar terms, such as retention, reputation, best employer.

“Financial figures will become less important as these other elements hold more weight in the long term. They will be increasingly linked to profits and viability. Each organisation needs to define what ‘sustainability’ means to them and make the link to business objectives clear,” says Professor Adams, also a judge and discussion panel member at the upcoming annual ACCA Sustainability Reporting Conference.

During the Sustainability Reporting Conference, held on 8 August 2011, Australia’s leading thinkers will present and conduct panel discussions to explore what Australian organisations need to consider now, in terms of their planning and investment strategies, to be sustainable in 2030.

Keynote speaker, demographer and social commentator Bernard Salt argues that Australia, in particular, will come under increasing pressure over the next 20 years as the planet approaches peak humanity.

“As a producer of food, energy, resources and commodities, Australia is a valuable commodity in a resource-hungry world. The early decades of the 21st century will determine how Australia develops prosperity, delivers the necessary skills and maintains environmental integrity,” says Salt.

Professor Adams says the conference aims to bring sustainable reporting into focus and help overcome resistance and indifference to sustainability and help drive major attitudinal and operational change.

“There are two important elements of sustainability reporting - the report itself and the development of the report. The report is useful for industries to understand the major issues affecting other organisations in the industry.

“However, from an internal perspective, it’s the development of the report that really counts. Determining which areas of business are involved and the range of stakeholders affected by the business operations helps businesses develop strategic approaches to sustainability,” says Professor Adams.

The ACCA Conference recognises excellence in sustainability reporting. Now in its eighth year, the awards recognise organisations that deliver comprehensive reports on their environmental, societal and sustainable initiatives. Companies are judged based on transparency in their reporting and how well they communicate their corporate performance with stakeholders.

“Significant progress has been made on the development of sustainability in a short time. While sustainability reporting remains voluntary, there is a continual appetite for greater transparency of how businesses are making efforts to step lightly on the environment, enhance society and co-exist in harmony,” concludes Professor Adams.

2011 ACCA Sustainability Reporting Conference, including presentation of 2010 Sustainability Reporting Awards is being held Monday 8 August 2011 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney.

http://www2.accaglobal.com/australia/general/sustainability_au/conference

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