The International Federation of Accountants issued a call to action this month to the G20 finance leaders urging them to focus more on sustainability as a way to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Next month, the UN will mark the halfway point to the deadline set for achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, and IFAC wanted to renew the call to action it has issued the past few years to the G20. IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey sees it as an evolution of its previous calls to action. “This one was timely because we’re halfway to the UN’s SDG goals for 2030 and we still have a long way to go,” he said. “The G20 is the key global group that is intended to show leadership on these issues, and we think it’s important that they do.”
The G20 is set to meet in New Delhi, India, on Spt. 9 and 10.
However, Dancey pointed out that other groups need to be involved in sustainability as well, including accountants. “Our view is that professional accountants are really at the center of everything,” he said. “They’re key to all major decisions. Accounting is the language of business and everything else, so it’s quite important that the accountancy profession be engaged front and center.”
IFAC called on G20 leaders to make sustainability a reality, not just a goal, and to lead on achieving the UN SDGs and provide a foundation for net zero transitions. The G20 should also support the International Sustainability Standards Board’s global baseline for sustainability disclosures, and support mandatory assurance of sustainability information pursuant to the International Accounting and Auditing Standards Board’s proposed International Standard on Sustainability Assurance 5000. The IAASB is affiliated with IFAC, as is the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board, and IFAC wants the G20 to support the IPSASB’s efforts to develop sustainability reporting standards for the public sector.
“That board is looking at sustainability as well, and that’s going to be an evolving development,” said Dancey. “Clearly for voices on the sustainability front, the capacity development side is going to be a particularly key area of focus, not only for the ISSB, but for the profession and elsewhere, to make sure that there’s capacity development around the world.”
IFAC also called on the G20 to support high-quality public financial management, professionalization in the public sector, and accrual accounting at all levels of government and to fight corruption, pointing to the G20’s own Anti-Corruption Action Plan.
IFAC also urged the G-20 to create an environment for growth and innovation at small and midsized enterprises and to embed their unique needs into its global policy making. The G-20 should support access to digital infrastructure and skills for SMEs and provide a supportive regulatory environment for them.
IFAC also asked the G20 to support equal access to education, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and accounting skills, and support financial literacy globally and locally.
”When you look at the various areas we’ve emphasized here, whether it be sustainability, public financial management, or anti-corruption, the importance of SMEs, the importance of education, they’re all related to the key priorities we’ve been working on for the last three, four or five years,” said Dancey. “Our message is quite consistent, and I think the work we’re doing at IFAC is quite aligned with what we think the G20 should be doing and with what many global stakeholders are seeking in terms of the way forward.”