LONDON: The Prince of Wales has called for
more businesses to join the International Integrated Reporting
Committee’s integrated reporting pilot programme in his annual
address to the Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project at St
James’s Palace in London.

On Thursday, Prince Charles said he would like
to see more businesses join the 38 organisations who are taking
part in the programme, which aims to evolve best practices and
provide useful feedback to create an integrated reporting

In a passionate plead to accountants, business
leaders, investors and stakeholders, Prince Charles warned time is
running out to address climate change and ignoring sustainable
practices could contribute to a “perfect storm” of dire

“If we are to tackle the challenges of
over-consumption of natural resources and the impact of climate
change, it is vital we have better information about the risks and
opportunities that the transition to a sustainable global economy
will entail. And, that information needs translation into economic
terms that mean something in the world of finance and accounting,”
he said.

“The bottom line is obvious – we are consuming
our children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance. We have no excuse
today to not do anything about it.”

Sustaining resources

The UK’s future King acknowledged that current
economic conditions made it more difficult for businesses to place
sustainability at the top of their corporate agendas but explained
that good sustainable practices are vital to ensure future economic

“You do not need me, I am sure, to point out
how grim the economic climate is. At a time like this,
sustainability can all too easily seem a bit of a distraction, or
even a frustrating hindrance to economic development – a cost
centre for business that’s a ‘nice-to-have’ but has no place at the
table in the current circumstances,” he said.

“The trouble is that in our high tech age we
have totally lost sight of the fact that the ultimate source of all
our economic capital is natural capital. So if we continue to draw
down on this capital without replenishing it, then I am afraid we
will visit upon ourselves economic, social and environmental crises
that will have fundamental implications for how we live our lives
and for the prosperity of everyone born and yet unborn on the

Inaction, Prince Charles continued, could lead
to a “perfect storm accompanied by a mass stampede of headless

A call for leadership

The Prince of Wales urged the business
community to provide leadership on sustainability to “help
governments create an economic framework with natural and social
capital at its heart”.

“Because, make no mistake, the decisions that
investors and businesses take in the next few years will have a
cumulative impact on humanity’s ability to survive in the
long-term, in a way and to an extent never seen before,” he

The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability
Project was established by the Prince Charles in 2004 to develop
practical approaches for embedding sustainability into decision
making and reporting.

Accountants have taken a vital role in
promoting sustainability reporting and advising companies how to
implement it as a core business activity.