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IPA sustainability update

It was announced in December 2019 that sustainability would be a focus of the IPA in 2020. As we all know, a global pandemic had other plans, forcing our hand into other services and initiatives. However, with some normality returning to different extents across the country, now is the perfect time for the IPA to reintroduce this focus

IPA sustainability update
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  • Matthew Cavicchia
  • August 19, 2021
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Our focus is of course predominantly on the role of accountants. As the IPA regularly describes accountants as influencers of society with a plethora of transferrable skills, there is hardly a more pressing and topical issue than sustainability for the profession and its people to be tackling.

The 2020s is well and truly the decade of action when it comes to sustainable development, and we envisage accountants being right in the thick of it. Climate change is firmly established as a business risk, and as providers of financial and business advice, accountants will be expected to be up to speed. As a professional body, we acknowledge that our unique position enables us to promote sustainability at a variety of levels. These will be outlined below:

In our offices

Before we can faithfully advise SMPs to make their practices more sustainable, we must set an example by taking steps in our own offices to demonstrate what can be done.

A small-scale waste audit at head office made clear that the presence of at-desk bins completely overrides any incentive for staff to correctly separate their waste.

While some of us are conveniently located near the compactus room and have quick access to recycling, it is a lot further away for others. While one solution could have been putting an extra bin at each desk, the consensus for sustainable offices tends to be the implementation of centralised waste stations.

We have started small with landfill and mixed recycling and hope to reduce our waste to landfill by adding organic waste to these stations in the future.

Other initiatives around the IPA offices have included the exploration of paperless office opportunities.

This requires an investment into enhanced digitisation and the leveraging of platforms already used within the organisation. While this continues to be an ongoing project, we envisage digitisation maximising operational efficiencies and reducing our paper consumption.

The attention on waste and consumption relates to our SDG 8.4 initiative, which is about decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation.

The solution with the most legs is ‘circular economics’, which was introduced in our waste feature in the previous edition of Public Accountant.

As many developments are occurring in this space, especially accounting for circular business models, we hope to have many updates coming soon.

Thought leadership

The second element of our focus on sustainability is to drive important discussions and be thought leaders. This has symbolically begun with the lead-up to this sustainability edition, although it will continue to have a presence within Public Accountant and our other IPA Group media channels. Additionally, we are in the process of signing up as signatories of the United Nations Global Compact, which is the world’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative. By becoming a member of the Global Compact, we make a pledge to the following:

  • To meet the Global Compact’s 10 Universal Sustainability Principles;
  • To engage with the society around us;
  • To push sustainability deep within our DNA ; and
  • To report on our progress.

On an advocacy front, we will continue to be supportive of IFAC’s sustainability focus and the IFRS sustainability standards board.

Expanding our impact

With over 40,000 members, the IPA is excited at the prospect of inspiring you to review your own practices, as well as provide opportunities for you to obtain the necessary skills to help your clients implement more sustainable business models. While this is perhaps further down the line in our strategy, expect to see an increase in sustainability reporting and climate risk disclosures among future CPD.

Other member-focused initiatives include Counting on U, which is of course our initiative that provides members an opportunity to undertake mental health training. Mental health is linked to sustainability through the third sustainable development goal, which is ‘good health and wellbeing’.

Sustainable development goals

Our seven sustainable development goals of focus are outlined below:

  1. Good health and wellbeing

Counting on U and other mental health initiatives, and our reason for being, which is a dedication to improving the life of small business.

  1. Quality education

Increasing pathways, continually improving the quality of the IPA Program and a commitment to lifelong learning.

  1. Gender equality

Ensuring we maintain a balance of gender diversity and equality in our own organisation and advocate for the same across the profession and the broader community.

  1. Decent work and economic growth

Aforementioned SDG 8.4 initiative, as well as an ongoing commitment to monitor and contribute to Australia’s sustainable economic growth. 

  1. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Ongoing work on developing industry and innovation policy, including through the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre and the Small Business White Paper series.  

  1. Peace, justice and strong institutions

Capacity building and advocacy to government and regulators, including a focus on appropriate policy and regulation.

  1. Partnerships for the goals

Expanding our alliances to maximise the reach and extent of our positive social impact.

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