Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 22nd 2017 Contents These days, it seems movie-star
cool to be an advocate of all
things on the sustainability
spectrum, from the envi-
ronment to corporate social
performance to social justice.
Many entities have hopped onto the sustaina-
bility bandwagon with fancy claims that their
activities are sustainable.
"Sustainability" and "sustainable devel-
opment" are buzzwords in today's language.
These terms are often used interchangeably.
The purpose of this article is firstly to describe
sustainability and its reporting in simple terms.
Secondly, to call for some form of sustaina-
bility reporting to be required by entities with
public accountability (listed entities and state
Reporting on an entity's performance has
traditionally been focused on the financial
statements. It is widely accepted that both fi-
nancial and non-financial measures are needed
to obtain a holistically representative view of
an entity's performance.
ACCA in its 2014 policy paper on sustain-
ability noted the following:
"Over the past 20 years, there has been in-
creasing pressure placed on organisations by
various stakeholders to measure and manage
their impacts on the environment and society,
and communicate this publicly. This has usual-
ly been in the form of a separate sustainability
report, distinct from a company's annual report
Many stock exchanges around the world re-
quire listed entities to report on sustainability
in some form. There are no such requirements
in T&T. Critics will say that T&T is a small
country and we are not yet ready for this.
As a country with huge aspirations in terms
of developed nation status and given our ex-
hausting natural resources (which we only now
seem to understand are being exhausted), sure-
ly, we need to at least get the ball rolling and
giving serious thought to how entities give an
account of their sustainability actions.
What is sustainability?
Sustainable development is defined by the
UN World Commission on Economic Develop-
ment as "development that meets the needs of
the present without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their own needs"
In an analysis of the current state of the plan-
et, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) comment-
ed that human development is unsustainable.
The shift to a sustainable economy will require
significant changes in the way in which goods
are produced and consumed.
What is a sustainability
A sustainability report is an organisation-
al report that gives information about eco-
nomic, environmental, social and governance
There are several globally recognised sus-
tainability reporting standards. It is very
important for readers to recognise that sus-
tainability reports cover more than just envi-
ronmental issues, although there is a strong
focus on them.
So, they would also include reporting on
subjects such as emissions, energy conser-
vation statistics, recycling, labour practices,
giving back to communities, regulatory com-
Why is sustainability
1. Key global issue:
It is acknowledged globally that responsible
actions in the way we live today are needed to
ensure a sustainable future for the earth and
2. Stakeholder demand
The demand for sustainability reporting
globally is growing rapidly, driven not just
by shareholders and investors, but by stake-
holders such as customers, employees, regu-
lators, stock exchanges, rating agencies, civil
society groups and communities. Investment
decisions and capital allocation increasingly
rely on non-financial information included in
Financial decision making incorporates fi-
nancial and non-financial measures, including
those about sustainability.
Socially responsible investments are among
the fastest-growing category of investment
3. Global Practice
Sustainability reporting is a widespread
global practice and there are many reporting
A recent study by a prominent US University
found that the governments or stock exchanges
of 33 countries have required or encouraged
some level of sustainability reporting.
ACCA in a recent publication on sustaina-
bility indicated that: "Organisations tend to
communicate their sustainability activities
through sustainability reports and currently
over 3,000 companies worldwide, including
over two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500,
issue annual reports on sustainability and
"The pool of companies reporting is global,
and represents all sectors and industries. The
quality of reporting varies significantly, but
companies should aim to produce clear and
credible reports that place the organisation's
activity in the context of the wider societal
and environmental systems within which the
By far, the most widely used sustainability
reporting standards are those set by Global
Reporting Initiative (GRI). Some other exam-
ples of sustainability reporting standard setters
are: International Integrated Reporting Council
(IIRC), Sustainability Accounting Standards
Board (SASB) and Climate Disclosure Stand-
ards Board (CDSB), International Organisation
for Standardisation (ISO) 26000, UN Global
Compact 10 Principles and United Nations
Environment Programme Finance Initiative
4. Recognition by the
International accounting bodies and pro-
fessional services firms have recognised the
importance of sustainability reporting. There
are large dedicated professionals around the
world working in this arena.
In fact, the recognition goes further to the
rapidly developing practice of Integrated Re-
porting (IR), which helps to complete financial
and sustainability reports. IR's contribution to
global sustainability was described as "a bet-
ter language for businesses to communicate
with their investors, in order to deliver more
sustainable value creation and more efficient
In January 2017, the International Federa-
tion of Accountants (IFAC) updated its policy
position paper on integrated reporting which
outlines IFAC'S position that integrated re-
porting is the way to achieve a more coherent
corporate reporting system, fulfilling the need
for a single report that provides a fuller pic-
ture of organisations' ability to create value
5. Governance responsibility
Entities are under greater pressures from
various stakeholders, not just shareholders
to justify their legitimacy.
Many of issues involved relate to sustaina-
bility. Those responsible for an entity's cor-
porate governance have a responsibility to en-
sure valid legitimacy concerns are addressed.
Sustainability reporting plays a critical role
in supporting effective communications and
closing governance gaps.
In T&T, we have many businesses engaged in
activities with critical sustainability account-
abilities. eg oil and gas exploration, petroleum
refining, petrochemical manufacture, mining,
manufacturing, hotels and ports, to name a few.
Service industries such as banking, tourism,
health are not insulated from sustainability
As T&T strives for developed nation status,
the regulatory architecture needs to be put in
place to ensure sustainability is reported on by
those entities where it matters most.
I urge parties such as the T&T Securities and
Exchange Commission (TTSEC) and Minis-
tries of Energy, Finance and Trade to consider
making sustainability reporting a requirement
for listed entities and certain state enterprises,
appropriately tailored to our national context.
Wendell Ramoutar is ACCA International
Assembly representative for T&T
JUNE 22 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
VERBATIM | BG11
Is T&T ready for
Links Archive June 21st 2017 June 23rd 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page