Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project sets up CFO network

Engagement with investors a key principle for new corporate initiative

Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) has set up a network of company chief financial officers to help embed environmental and social issues into company strategy – backed by blue-chip firms such as Marks & Spencer, Unilever and Walmart’s European arm (full list below).

Engagement with investors is a charter commitment of the new group, the Chief Financial Officer Leadership Network. It’s believed to be the first grouping of its kind to focus on the role CFOs play in integrating environmental and social issues into financial decision-making.

The Network is being launched today at the eighth A4S Annual Forum and will be co-chaired by Pierre-André Terisse, CFO of French food group Danone, and his counterpart at UK retailer Sainsbury, John Rogers.

The launch follows a seminar in October developed by A4S, the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The group will develop and share successful strategies such as improved modelling of future risk and uncertainty – as well as engagement with investors and other stakeholders.
“To influence the environment within which organisations operate through engagement with investors and other stakeholders,” is one of the new network’s charter provisions.

The initiative follows the successful launch last week of the international Integrated Reporting framework, which was kicked off by A4S and the Global Reporting Initiative in 2010.Prince Charles, who recently told the UK’s National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) that institutional investors have a need, and arguably a duty, to ensure emerging environmental, social and economic risks are identified and managed, said CFOs have a “vital role” in ensuring corporate sustainability into the future.

He said: “The bottom line is that sustainable business equals good business.” The network would play a key role “not only in communicating why sustainability makes business sense, but how to start accounting for it”.

Sainsbury’s Rogers said: “What used to be seen as greenwash needs to become as natural to company finance teams as it is to CR departments or even NGOs.” The group will be extended globally next year.

Founding member firms:

Anglian Water
Burberry Group
British Land
The Crown Estate
Royal DSM
Marks & Spencer
National Grid
South West Water
United Utilities
Walmart EMEA
Yorkshire Water