The document, Sustainability: the role of accountants, found that the profession has the potential to be a major player in the drive for greater sustainability.
The new statutory operating and financial review (OFR), tradable permits and the preparation and monitoring of purchasing policies are cited as key areas for accountants to contribute.
But an accompanying survey produced worrying evidence that the profession at large has failed to engage in the area, with just 3.5% of 140 firms questioned saying they have specialist knowledge in sustainable development, environmental or social issues.
Paul Druckman, president of the institute, said: ‘Chartered accountants have a long history of responding to new market opportunities and shifts in public expectations.’
‘I personally think the profession should take a lead on sustainability because it is in the public interest. But even from a hard-headed business perspective, this is an area of work into which accountants can and should diversify because governments and consumers will increasingly demand sustainable corporate behaviour.’
The report was given only a luke-warm welcome by environmentalists, who expressed frustration at the institute’s recent efforts to delay the OFR.
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