Image of The Accountant editor Nicola MaherSustainability reporting has been all over the news this month with the Rio +20 conference in Brazil taking place.

Unfortunately I was stuck in a London office rather then jet-setting across the world to hang out with the influentials, but our correspondent spent 10 long days covering it and the write-up will be in next month’s issue, so watch this space.

The big thing to come out of it has been the call for governments around the world to take up the fight and place more pressure on companies to report on their corporate social responsibility information.

We have heard it all before haven’t we? But maybe after countries like South Africa have taken steps towards making it mandatory, it is less of leap for others to follow suit. In fact, five days in and UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wrote a piece for the Guardian announcing to the world that more than 1,800 companies in the country are going to be mandatorily required to report greenhouse gas emission levels from April 2013.

This is a massive deal, and another step for mankind towards making the global business world realise that sustainability reporting is not only fundamental to their success but also to the longevity of planet Earth for generations to come.

Naïve as this may sound, but if I were in charge I’d just make all companies report on their sustainability practices – not just the larger ones. However, there are some smaller enterprises out there that have been pushing sustainability initiatives from their inception.

Take Fruitful Office: I profiled founder Daniel Ernst, who is also an accountant, for this month’s issue (see article: Accountant to entrepreneur) and was pleasantly surprised to hear the company not only created a product which is 98% biodegradable and compostable, but they also keep air miles to a minimum and plant a fruit tree in Malawi for every fruit basket sold.

It is businesses like this that can inspire not only others from the SME community but larger companies that may need a little push towards becoming more responsible and realising it can actually enhance their business.

It is also down to you management accountants to ‘serve as agents for change’. More also needs to be done to catch the next generation at grass roots level as this would help to enforce the important role accountants have to play.

Awarding those who try

As a way to praise businesses that are implementing sustainability initiatives, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project in association with NatWest also launched their inaugural Finance for the Future awards this month.

I’m all for this type of strategy, to not only raise the profile of sustainability in business but to also encourage more organisations to participate of there own accord – and before mandating is a necessary step.

I would like to congratulate all three organisers for not only putting on a wonderful event but also for their hard work in promoting sustainability initiatives.

Nicola Maher