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April 2012

Integrating Sustainability into the Reporting Process and Elsewhere

Obstacles and Best Practices for CPAs

Recent evidence indicates that the concept of sustainability—also known as corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate responsibility (CR), or triple bottom line (TBL) reporting—is gaining momentum in the business world. While there are numerous definitions for sustainability, all of these definitions incorporate the following three variables: the environmental, social, and economic performance of an organization. A 2011 AICPA, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) report, “SMEs Set Their Sights on Sustainability: Case Studies of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) from the UK, US, and Canada,” explains sustainability as follows: “There are many ways to interpret the term sustainability, but whether it means environmental performance, corporate citizenship, long term business perspectives or all three, it is a growing priority for businesses of all sizes.” The report identifies the finance function as critical in formulating and implementing a sustainability strategy. Accordingly, the accounting profession is seeking ways to more fully participate in the area of sustainability, and the AICPA is trying to drive change by introducing tools to facilitate sustainable business.

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