The local and foreign companies are increasingly looking to assess their competitive position in the market in respect of sustainability reporting and sustainability performance. It gives a clear idea to all stakeholders of company’s overall financial impacts and creates opportunities for strengthening the efforts towards building a prosperous sustainable future. The sustainability reports help companies to build clients’ confidence and improve corporate reputations. The professional accountants can play a big role in preparation of corporate sustainability reports of the companies for the real development of the economy.
Speakers on 7 April 2022 forwarded these views at the webinar on ‘Latest Developments in the Standardization of Sustainability Reporting: An Update from Global and Local Perspective’ organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh(ICAB). Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh joined the webinar as the chief guest while ICAB President Md. Shahadat Hossain FCA delivered address of welcome. Nasir Uddin Ahmed FCA, Council Member & Past President ICAB and Senior Partner, MABS & J Partners, Chartered Accountants moderated the webinar. Khondkar Morshed Millat, General Manager, Sustainable Finance Department, Bangladesh Bank also joined as guest speaker.
Ataur Rahman Belal, PhD, Professor and Chairman of Accounting, Sheffield University Management School, The University of Sheffield, UK presented the keynote paper. Fouzia Haque FCA delivered closing remarks while ICAB CEO Shubhashish Bose spoke on the subject matter.
Describing the accounting profits and the social profit of the organisations from the sustainable reporting perspective, Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh said, Financial Statements is being prepared not only for public accountability but also for the issue of concerning the organizations’ sustainable activities including the financial transactions. He said, ICAB members need to be aware about the sustainable reporting guidelines and directives so that they could give assurance of the sustainable activities of organizations to the stakeholders.
He also urged the CAs to take up the technological transformation in accounting profession not only for accounting learning but also for social profit with the cost minimize approach.
ICAB President Md. Shahadat Hossain FCA said, sustainable reporting is mainly based on investor-focused capital market standards of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards, and the GRI sustainability reporting requirements set by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), compatible, and designed to meet multi-stakeholders needs.
He said, however, in most cases, sustainability reporting is mistaken as interchangeable with corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting, non-financial reporting or a triple bottom line (three Ps: People, Planet, and Profit) reporting. It should be borne in mind that sustainability reporting is an important tool used in the implementation process of corporate social responsibility, he added.
He further said, sustainability reporting is very important because it helps in sending a clear idea to all stakeholders of company’s overall financial impacts. It also creates opportunities for strengthening the efforts towards building a prosperous sustainable future, he added saying that sustainability reports help companies to build clients’ confidence and improve corporate reputations, which entailed details of social responsibility programs and transparent risk management.
The keynote presenter Professor Ataur Rahman Belal, said, considering the business phenomenon, in 2021 IFRS Foundation has revised the governance structure incorporating International Sustainability Standard Board (ISSB). At the same time the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), has been revised and renamed as Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). All these initiatives were taken to give an assurance of sustainability information of companies to the stakeholders, he said.
He also said, it is true that the local and foreign companies are increasingly looking to assess their competitive position in the market in respect of sustainability reporting and sustainability performance.
In February 2011, Bangladesh Bank issued a policy titled “Guidelines for Green Banking” for all scheduled banks. The guidelines require commercial banks to prepare their Sustainability Reports as Independent Annual Sustainability Report (IASR) by following the GRI standards. Besides, Sustainable finance policy, 2020, CSR policy guidelines, 2022 and Guidance on Sustainability Reporting for Listed Companies in Bangladesh, 2020 have also been pronounced to comply the sustainable reporting of business entities –according the paper presented in the webinar.
The keynote presenter said, Banks and Financial Institutions have submitted their reports (annual/ integrated) to the GRI sustainability disclosure database the contained a wide range of sustainability topics but failed to meet the requirement of GRI standards or guidelines, he lamented.
Although the 2020 GRI Sustainability Reporting Trends in South Asia shows slightly uptrend but this progress is not quite satisfactory, he added and said, the professional accountants can play a big role in preparation of corporate sustainability reports of the companies for the real development of the economy.
This article was first published by Chartered Accountants Ireland at the following URL: https://www.icab.org.bd/publication/news/3/435/details