The accountant’s role in managing natural capital – resources like water, land, minerals, and oceans – is explained by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) in a new online resource and accompanying guides for business leaders, performance managers, corporate reporters, and auditors and assurers.
In Professional accountants changing business for the planet: A guide to natural capital management ACCA advises that accountants should begin the journey to understanding their natural capital risks and opportunities by connecting their organisation’s value chain to its areas of natural capital dependency and impact.
A strong sustainability governance framework should also be put in place, that integrates with the organisation’s strategy, risk management, systems, and staff development.
Sharon Machado, portfolio head of business reporting and author of the guides explains: ‘For many professional accountants, formulating and executing natural capital strategies is likely to be a new experience, and a journey, that involves several key steps. So this series helps professional accountants to change business for the benefit of the planet, by providing simple and practical explanations about the process. It includes case studies, alongside links to other helpful external resources from organisations such as the Capitals Coalition and the Convention on Biological Diversity.’
The guides recommend using the 4Rs strategic framework – restore, reduce, remove, and reimagine success – to help generate strategic options and ideas across the business. And to design and implement the natural capital strategy, the guides also advocate learning from other organisations to understand best practices.
Stakeholder management is also part of the journey, with ACCA setting out the need for relevant and reliable communication with stakeholders on plans and performance.
Sharon Machado concludes: ‘Professional accountants and leaders have direct responsibility for an organisation’s long-term financial well-being, through sustainable value creation. To do this they must assess and drive strategic decision-making, finance, risk management, and control, together with leading performance reporting. For many organisations, natural capital is a material factor underpinning the organisation’s resilience – therefore financial well-being will be inextricably linked to good natural capital management.’