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A4S publishes research report on sustainability

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17 Dec 2012

The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) has published the outcomes of research into which types of information may be most effective in driving the integration of environmental and social factors into board level decision making.

The report, entitled Future Proofed Decision Making: Integrating environmental and social factors into strategy, finance and operations, reveals that senior decision makers within business and public sector remain unconvinced about the relevance of environmental and social issues to day-to-day decision making.

The research was conducted over the span of eight months (ending in May 2012), and consisted of a series of qualitative interviews and discussions with 58 senior managers (e.g. board members, CEOs, CFOs) of large companies and public sector organisations.

Themes emerging from the research included:

  • a lack of understanding of the implications of environmental and social factors to strategy, finances and operations
  • lack of visibility of environmental and social related issues at the board level
  • the need for robust information, including rigorous valuations of environmental and social factors in financial terms using trusted methodologies
  • few organisations being convinced of the commercial necessity of responding to significant environmental and social issues.

In response to the report, A4S is working on a number of initiatives to help create a sustainable economy and to help organisations embed sustainability into their decision making.

The report outlines action points for organisations including:

  • Demonstrating the business case - Show the commercial rationale for incorporating social and environmental factors into decision making to help ensure that organisations are aware of the risks to mitigate and the opportunities to grasp over the short, medium and long term
  • Develop more robust information - Develop concise, recognisable measures and methodologies for environmental and social factors (with demonstrated links to the organisation's finances)
  • Bridge the knowledge gap - Recognise and address the need for skills expansion at board level and within the finance and accounting community for a sustainable economy.

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