This focus group was one of six held around the world, to capture the collective thinking of 49 sustainability reporting experts in a new report from ACCA called Paragraph 47: international perspectives one year on.
The global discussions in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the UK, focused on how the international community should take forward the commitments set out in paragraph 47 of the United Nations outcome document The Future We Want, which was agreed at the Rio+20 conference in 2012. .
The UAE focus group brought together 11 high level delegates representing a range of organisations – including KPMG, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group and The Pearl Initiative. Whilst the level of sustainability reporting is currently low in the UAE, it was felt that sustainability reporting should play an important role in the development of the UAE in the years to come.
In order to catalyse UAE businesses into action, a clear business case for sustainability reporting needs to be made. UAE specific sustainability reporting guidelines would also help companies in the region undertake such initiatives, as the current international reporting frameworks require reporting systems that are currently beyond many companies in the UAE.
Rachel Jackson, ACCA’s head of sustainability, said: “We were aware that, from our conversations over the past 12 months, that there were different interpretations and understanding of what paragraph 47 meant. We set out to capture those differing views from both a regional and stakeholder perspective. The findings will be valuable to governments and other key players actors, one year after the declaration was signed, in driving paragraph 47 forward, thus increasing the levels of corporate sustainability reporting.
“There was common opinion that sustainability reporting will help efforts to address social and environmental issues, that government-led action was an important way to kick start the wider adoption of sustainability reporting, and that existing frameworks should be used to develop best practice, rather than being inefficient and reinventing the wheel.”
Susie Isaacson, head of ACCA UAE, said: “It has been an extremely valuable exercise to capture these differing perspectives, one year on from the declaration being signed, to serve as a reminder that the implementation of paragraph 47 will need to address the myriad of stakeholder and cultural views and differences in order to succeed.”
“These discussions will hopefully make a difference in helping to change perspectives and show just how important corporate sustainability reporting is to helping the UAE’s growing economy maintain its momentum.”
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