Accountants issue rallying call on nature and biodiversity

It comes ahead of a landmark UN biodiversity conference in China

Close to 1.5m accountants operating globally have been asked to “play their part in protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainability of natural resources” through financing and investment decisions.  

Practitioners were told that they could “reverse the process of nature loss” by supporting disclosure of biodiversity-related risks and impacts, supporting expenditure and investment in nature-positive outcomes, providing advice on making positive organisational impacts on the environment, and identifying nature-related dependencies and impacts. 

The call-to-action was announced today by members of the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA), a coalition of ten major professional accounting bodies including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, CPA Canada and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. 

The six-point action plan also included provisions to support the development of products and technologies with a lower environmental impact, and providing sufficient disclosures to support green investments. 

In a joint statement, the GAA CEOs said: “We recognise that our planet is being impacted by a three-fold crisis of a climate emergency, dramatic nature loss and rising social inequality. Addressing these challenges will require integrated thinking as companies reallocate resources, reorient production and reimagine their business models.” 

The ten CEOs have also committed to partnering with governments to support corporate action on biodiversity, and to provide accountants with training on how to incorporate nature-related factors in decision making. 

It is the first time in recent years that the GAA has put out a public statement addressing biodiversity and other climate change-related issues, despite active engagement from its membership bodies on those topics. However, the GAA has supported an ongoing project to create global risk-based corporate sustainability disclosure standards. 

The statement has been published ahead of the UN Conference of Biological Diversity COP 15, the biodiversity equivalent of the UN’s annual climate conference, which is due to be hosted by China in Q2. The landmark event will conclude international negotiations on a revised global biodiversity framework and target-setting over the next decade. 

Separately, sustainability standard-setter SASB has appointed CPP Investments’ sustainability head Richard Manley and Norges Bank Investment Management’s compliance head Carine Smith Ihenacho as Chair and Vice Chair of its investor advisory group (IAG). 

It is the first major appointment by SASB since it merged with the International Integrated Reporting Council, forming the Value Reporting Foundation, in June 2021.  

The SASB IAG has more than 60 members, including nine which are listed among the 10 largest asset managers globally and three of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds.