Author: Andy Goldstein, NASBA Electronic Media Specialist and Webmaster
Sustainability reporting is an important element of today’s business landscape, and will be the focus of a series of discussions under the theme, “Triple Bottom Line: Economic, Environmental and Social Performance” at NASBA’s International Forum, Oct. 31 – Nov. 1, 2012 in Orlando, FL.
A sustainability report enables companies and organizations to report sustainability information in a way that is similar to financial reporting, and gives information about economic, environmental, social and governance performance. The thorough discussions about sustainability reporting will be led by three notable and influential professionals.
One of those professionals is Virginia Aulin, Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs at Boise, Inc., who will be discussing how a company’s “green” efforts can be good for its bottom line.
Boise is a large manufacturer of packaging and paper products, with key values including safety, integrity and stewardship (managing businesses to sustain environmental resources for future generations). In April 2011, Aulin’s statement about the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA) clarified Boise’s position supporting Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) introduction of a bill that would reduce corporate carbon footprints and make certain products more sustainable and more competitive.
The bipartisan bill would give states the option of adding extra axles to truck weights in order to establish matching weight standards in all states for interstate commerce. Such legislation could reduce costs, trips and emissions.
Aulin noted the bill would help Boise remain competitive by allowing reduced transportation costs throughout the country.
“Under SETA, Boise, Inc. could annually eliminate several thousand truck loads from our operations, dramatically reducing fuel use and emissions associated with our products,” said Aulin. “SETA is also a critical tool for the recovery of the forest products industry, which needs new, innovative ways to maintain and grow its market share.”
Addressing the long-awaited need to drive the practice of sustainability reporting will be Mike Wallace, Director of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Focal Point USA. GRI’s Focal Point USA is responsible for supporting the growth and quality of sustainability reporting in the U.S. Wallace has almost 20 years of experience advising corporations, non-profits and government agencies in their respective efforts to develop and implement sustainability initiatives.
GRI promotes a report-or-explain approach to sustainability reporting, which means organizations report their sustainability performance or explain why they did not. The increase of sustainability reporting is rising sharply in the U.S., in part due to the large number of multinational enterprises that want to demonstrate leadership and address calls for increased transparency.
“Unless we have data that’s comparable and put out in a standardized form, we can’t really make any decisions or pass any judgments,” said Wallace.
G4 – the next set of GRI Guidelines – should address requirements for sustainability data and enable reporters to provide relevant information to various stakeholder groups. The G4 Guidelines are scheduled to be launched in May 2013.
As the number of jurisdictions requiring transparency reports increases, companies turn to CPAs to help them communicate activities that cannot easily be reflected in financial statements. As a partner with Moss-Adams, LLP, Laurie Tish, CPA, has extensive knowledge and experience within the sustainability environment, and will share her unique perspective about the challenges and benefits of this new attest engagement.
Tish, who is Chair of NASBA’s Global Strategies committee, also specializes in providing audit and consulting services to electric, water and wastewater utilities, and provides auditing services related to corporate social responsibility reports. In an essay written for the Northwest Public Power Association Bulletin, Tish said the idea of reporting on sustainability is gaining widespread global currency among companies.
“There is no question that environmental and social factors will continue to be a business imperative,” said Tish. “It’s no longer just about avoiding the red and operating in the black – utility management will need to start thinking about how to report in the green.”
For more information about the International Forum, please visit the Meetings & Events page on this website.
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