CIMA launches guide to help accountants work towards UN development goals

New guide highlights the impact management accountants have on business sustainability

Management accountants play a critical role in helping to drive trust, opportunity and prosperity and ultimately creating a sustainable future for businesses and people.  A new guide published by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), the unified voice of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), provides guidance to help management accountants and their organizations achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These 17 goals and their 169 associated targets were created in an effort to address world issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.

The CGMA guide, The role of the accountant in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, details the business advantage of the SDGs and provides direction to help organizations achieve some of their social and socio-economic objectives.  More specifically, the guide suggests that the skillsets, organizational role and ethical commitment of management accountants across the world place members of the accounting profession at the forefront of SDG planning and implementation. The areas accounting professionals can influence range widely, from developing new programmes of activity, to evidencing major successes, highlighting risk and proposing alternative courses of action.

“Chartered Global Management Accountants (CGMAs) are committed to upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct and are well-suited to help organizations deliver the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” said Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive – Management Accounting at the Association. “As these goals gain traction, the skillset of CGMAs, which includes expertise in governance, risk management and control, business analysis and decision support, among other things, will become increasingly desirable and valuable.”

According to the guide, management accountants can help businesses achieve the SDG goals by:

  • encouraging businesses to improve innovation capabilities
  • focusing on best practice in governance and stewardship
  • driving the formation of strategic partnerships
  • helping businesses to base their corporate reports on the six ‘capitals’ of integrated reporting: human, social and relationship, intellectual, natural, manufacturing and financial.

Additionally, the guide also provides examples of how organizations in different sectors and geographies are already meeting SDG requirements. It includes tools and methods which businesses can use to help manage reputational risk and respond to globalization, digitization and the impact of policy change.

One of the tools referenced in the guide is the CGMA Business Model Framework. In addition to enhancing organizations’ potential for creating long-term value, this tool can also help address the risks and opportunities involved in pursuing the SDGs. Analyzing information and providing it to stakeholders as evidence of progress towards meeting the Goals can help organizations to realize trust in their stated values and intentions.

Further resources on the specifics of the 17 SDGs and how to assess and enhance engagement are also included.