Why sustainabilty reporting is so important

With the deadline rapidly approaching for entering ACCA SA’s annual Sustainability Reporting Awards, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of sustainability reporting and why it is so important for ACCA SA to continue to encourage companies in South Africa to enter our annual Sustainability Reporting Awards.

The well-known American proverb: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” sums up why I believe it is so important for business to account for its environmental, social and economic performance.

Sustainability reporting is not a ‘nice to have:” there are compelling business reasons for embracing sustainability reporting. In addition to helping to build trust among a wide range of stakeholders, sustainability reporting also compels organisation to do some serious introspection in terms of their strategies, procedures, policies and business practices. This process enables organisations to enhance their efficiency and competitiveness; it also promotes robust risk management within the organisation.

ACCA is very cognisant of the fact that there is a global shift from sustainability reporting to integrated reporting. This transition will not be achieved over night. After lengthy discussions on this matter last year, our ACCA SA Sustainability Awards judging panel took the decision to retain our focus on sustainability reporting. We may, however, review this position as more and more companies transition to integrated reporting.

In last year’s Judges Report we highlighted the fact that the shift towards integrated reporting places great responsibility for full disclosure. A number of platinum producers enter our Annual Sustainability Reporting Awards year-on-year. As I page through submissions from the mining sector, I expect to see coverage of the serious issues that the Marikana massacre and unrest in the mining sector have raised. I want to read about stakeholder engagement, material risks posed by these events, and the decisions that have been taken to manage these risks and address stakeholder concerns.

In closing I am reminded of the words of Thomas Fuller written almost three hundred years ago: “We never know the worth of water until the well is dry.” By promoting sustainability reporting we will hopefully play a role in helping to take better care of our planet. We may even leave our planet in far better shape than we found it.

Karen Smal

ACCA SA Marketing and Promotions Manager


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