How The Global Accounting Profession Is A Catalyst For Achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals

Posted by Robert / 14 days ago / 0 Comments


Corruption, poverty, inequality and climate change are among a few of the world's most pressing challenges, which can often appear insurmountable.

Against this backdrop, public trust in government and business is waning. Government entities are increasingly distrusted and citizens are demanding, with more vigor than ever before, that CEOs lead on issues of change that will advance society at large. Given this backdrop, there is great opportunity to make consistent strides when business, government and society come together with a coordinated global effort to achieve progress.

At the top of the UN General Assembly agenda last year was the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity -- all with specific targets to be achieved by 2030. In order to reach these shared goals, every part of society needs to do its part. The accountancy profession, an essential driver of strong and sustainable organizations, financial markets and economies, has a crucial role in achieving them.

Unexpected Champions Of The SDGs

Representing almost three million professional accountants around the world, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and our member organizations make up a strong force, with the opportunity and obligation to keep business and government on track to support and progress nearly half of the SDGs.

In fact, 8 of the 17 goals are directly supported by the work of accountants. Gender equality, quality education, economic growth, climate action and peace, justice and strong institutions are among the key SDGs that accountants work toward every day in their varying roles.

Narrowing The Gender Gap

Ensuring that all women and girls have equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life is essential to a strong global economy. The profession champions diversity, especially in gender, by offering programs that attract, retain and advocate for women to enter the profession.

In several countries, accounting organizations are already contributing to gender equality. We expect to see this trend move upwards, as the profession continues to advocate for diversity through programs and partnerships.

Advancing Quality Education

A relevant, equitable and affordable education is widely recognized as a critical factor in ending extreme poverty and enabling economic development. The UN has found that nearly 60 million people could avoid poverty if adults had just two more years of education.

Currently, the profession is working toward meeting global demand for accountants with a range of initiatives to provide leadership, business and entrepreneurship skills and relevant professional education to further expand pathways into the profession. Accountancy organizations across the world also fund and support financial literacy education programs, which lead to more opportunities for skills training and development.

Promoting Economic Growth And Decent Work For All

Economic growth has a huge impact on the lives of citizens across the globe, and the global accountancy profession is a driver of economic growth and stability.

Economic growth and decent work for all is a goal that accountants advance in several ways. Accountants deploy their professional skills to encourage leaders to direct their organizations toward achieving sustainable economic, social and environmental performance. In addition, accountants have an opportunity to contribute to greater prosperity and improved living standards more broadly. The profession's impact on better information, reporting, measurement and decision making is associated with improved living standards, well-being and prosperity around the world.

Promoting Responsible Consumption And Production

The SDGs have raised expectations of the private sector, such that all organizations are expected to deliver a net-positive contribution to the environment, economy and society. For accountants in business, this means building corporate governance and integrated sustainability plans that optimize business processes, avoid waste and implement emerging innovations and technologies to drive efficiency.

Advancing Climate Action

The December 2015 Paris Agreement may seem like ancient history, but the issues addressed during the convention remain urgent. Ahead of that convention, IFAC published a letter of support calling for international agreement on global emissions. Yet, the profession can do more to support governments and global organizations in implementing plans for climate change.

For instance, auditors play a major role in holding governments accountable for performance, including progress toward climate goals and targets. Using integrated reporting to better understand climate change risk, accountants can help organizations align their business goals and objectives with preparing for climate change.

Keeping The Peace And Justice

Peace and justice underpin all of the SDGs. Transparent governments and corporations, as well as justice systems, are the building blocks of a safe and fair society. Global fraud and corruption threaten this SDG, preventing business growth, deterring public and foreign investment and thwarting resources. The profession's capacity to address limitations to sustainable growth directly affects drivers of economic development. In particular, the profession addresses head-on poor governance, fraud and corruption, poor public sector financial management and inadequate accounting and auditing practices.

Revitalizing Global Partnerships For Sustainability

In order to achieve the SDGs, businesses must work together. Cross-sector collaboration is critical to secure the support and resources needed to achieve these goals.

The accounting profession has a unique mandate to hold government and business responsible. With a strong accounting profession, we can help drive the changes needed to transform this globe for the better.

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Russell Guthrie

Executive Director External Affairs and CFO at IFAC overseeing communications, public policy and finance functions



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