Accountants Role in Sustainable Development

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The Ultimate Goal Is to Achieve Economic Growth

Sustainable development has gained popularity because countries have seen the need to make proper and efficient use of natural assets for the benefit of present and future generations which had been inefficiently used and wasted resulting in hazardous repercussions. 

Decades ago, economic growth was attained in ways that were dangerous to the natural environment. But sustainable development, propagates and advocates achieving growth in ways that will not jeopardize these natural resources, and ensure their availability and use by the present generation and the generations to come in quality value. 

The ultimate goal of sustainable development is to achieve economic growth, environmental protection and social inclusion. To attain this, three main goals must be put to use at the same time and their consistent and committed interaction must be guaranteed.  According to (2017), it is expected that by 2050, the world population will be around 9 billion. This gives sustainable development the challenge of ensuring that every human being on earth will enjoy better life which will not be dangerous to the earth’s resources. In line with this, every organization has its role to play to ensure that sustainable development is achieved. 

Accountants have contributed towards this development. Through all its various transformations, accounting serves as a train that moves sustainable development. These transformations at all stages will make it conform to the current trends in global businesses geared towards it. The need for accountants’ direct participation in sustainability issues became very strong, more recurrent, and more imperative. One of these global trends was the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for all quoted companies effective from January 2012 and subsequent adoption by private and other unquoted firms.

Research shows that global efforts towards integrated reports incorporating financial and non-financial data portray management accountants as the ideal providers of grouping devices in collaboration with senior managers to produce fully integrated reports which show sustainable strategies employed by businesses to satisfy the needs of different stakeholders.

Moreover, sustainability requires that monitoring and managing non-traditional data that will guide strategic decisions is a role that management accountants have to carry out. 

Subsequently, accountants offer management the desired data and vision for achieving specific goals according to the needs of management. They (accountants) focus on more than just monetary and commercial outcomes but also on decisions that influence customers and investors. Thus 

accountants play essential roles in sustainable development through the effective and efficient services they render to their organizations.

The following are International Federation of Accountants – IFAC (2011) recommendations on some realistic ways accountants play roles as partners and create a disparity toward sustainable development:

 • Identify the environmental impacts and association with the business strategy. 

• Identify and incorporate significant natural and social capital issues in the decision-making process. 

• Organize internal systems and processes to ensure that important issues are measured together

 • Control costs and reduce waste through efficient management 

• Evaluate the benefits of tracking environmental and social issues (cost reduction, revenue generation) • Link resources and strategies to the creation of value for stakeholders. 

Thus, accountants should champion sustainable development and ICPAK should help push this agenda.

Adopted from sustainable development framework by IFAC (2011)

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