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A New Frontier: Sustainability and ESG for CPAs and business professionals

The Sustainability and ESG certificate promotes and supports the ability of business professionals to assist an organization in creating value for the long term while considering the impact on society at large.

The Sustainability and ESG certificate supports the ability of business professionals contribute to an organization in creating value for the long term while considering the impact on society at large. Beyond the three pillars of environmental, social and governance (ESG), the certificate explores strategic risks and opportunities within sustainability from a financial and economic mindset as well as sustainability reporting and disclosure and touches on assurance considerations from an internal control perspective.

Certificate Learning Objectives

  • Identify, describe, and explain ESG concepts and issues such as biodiversity, climate change, diversity/equity, and inclusion (DEI) and wellness, and corporate governance issues (e.g., different governance models with global perspective, green and other washings, executive compensation etc.).
  • Explain and analyze the relevance of ESG in making financial, strategic and operational decisions.
  • Determine the influence or pressure of stakeholders and how they affect corporate ESG strategy, performance, reporting and disclosure.
  • Assess and create/interpret ESG risks and opportunities for organizations in various sectors.
  • Identify and explain company performance from an internal perspective and external assurance and reporting perspective.
  • Assess and interpret the various ESG reporting standards, guidelines, frameworks (IFRS (IIRC, SASB, CDSB), TCFD, GRI, etc.) and the future of ESG reporting.

Certificate Design | Course Outline

Courses will be a mix of asynchronous (on-demand) learning and synchronous (virtual classroom) learning. As the sustainability and ESG landscape is moving quickly, please note that the following certificate and its content are as of the following dates:

The certificate is comprised of four courses:

Course 1: Introduction to Sustainability – A Multi-Year Retrospective

Published September 2022 – On-Demand

Course 2: Deep Dive into Sustainability – Understanding E, S, and G

Published March 2023 – On-Demand

Courses 1 and 2 are on-demand and designed to build literacy in sustainability concepts, which is an essential building block to effective reporting, internal controls and governance. You will learn key terminology and historical and scientific information, such as what a CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) is and how it is calculated, to build your literacy in this space with a solid base literacy built. The course includes interactive e-learning slides, audio, video, knowledge checks and an end-of-module multiple-choice quiz (needing 80% or higher with unlimited attempts).

Note that courses 1 and 2 are available through CPABC, we encourage CPABC members to purchase directly from your provincial body here.

Course 3: Sustainability Reporting and Disclosure

Virtual Live Classroom Course – June 11, 13, 20 and 25, 2024*

This is an instructor-led virtual live classroom course training focused on standards and frameworks, and is accompanied by case-based exercises to reinforce learning. Register now to receive automatic access to upcoming course dates as they become available. NOTE: Completion of courses 1 and 2 is required before attending course 3 in the virtual classroom.

Course 4: Capstone

Virtual Live Capstone with Case – April 2024 and November 2024*

Self-directed but offered only at certain times a year due to case marking and opportunities for assistance and discussion on the case. Course 4 builds on the case from course 3, with further depth of exercises to ensure participants can utilize the standards and frameworks at the end of this program.

*Dates are tentative: There will be a minimum of two opportunities to take courses 3 and 4 annually when purchasing the certificate. Purchasing the complete certificate will automatically populate upcoming dates as part of your course access.

What's in it for me?

The competency of Sustainability is one of the largest disruptions in the profession in over 100 years. Developing your knowledge is a gateway to opportunity in this growing field with an increasing number of roles popping up, such as sustainability controller. Those who have a base knowledge in sustainability will become increasingly valuable to the organization and those that have well rounded financial and business acumen to accompany this knowledge will have a competitive skills advantage. Becoming a key resource at your organization will give you the opportunity to position yourself for more senior positions and add increasing value to your organization’s future.

Even if you are not a public company, organizations that are part of a larger value chain will experience needs from those they supply or provide services to. In addition, financial institutions, private equity and other providers of capital are increasingly interested in key sustainability metrics for organizations of all sizes.

  • sustainability over the years
  • sustainability frameworks and standards
  • organizational Impacts
  • regulatory, legal, and reputational impacts
  • ESG Investing and stakeholder stewardship and engagement
  • environmental, social and governance topics (climate change, biodiversity, diversity, equity, and inclusion, greenwashing, etc.)
  • sustainability for Materiality and Assurance
  • economic, financial, and data considerations
  • strategic considerations

The certificate and its courses are intended toward upskilling two distinct groups of professionals:

CPAs that have at least two to 10+ years of designated experience and MBA / business professionals that work in:

  • the private sector (e.g., publicly listed companies, private companies)
  • public accounting firms
  • management / consulting firms

Within those groups, we expect the following roles to align with this course and its objectives:

  • new CPA and business roles in sustainability and climate change
  • reporting Lead / Manager roles in public reporting (e.g., MD&A, AIF (annual information form), analyst reports / presentations, etc.)
  • investor relations and other professionals involved in the preparation of sustainability or integrated reports.
  • financial Statement preparers
  • senior/executive leadership roles

Sustainability and ESG considerations are fundamentally changing how organizations plan and execute their strategy and operate and in doing so, are impacting the entire career spectrum. This product is designed with inclusion in mind; there is something for everyone.

Prerequisites and requirements

There are no prerequisite requirements. It is highly recommended to complete all courses within the certificate as most members are new to these competency and topic areas within ESG and Sustainability. Also, the courses are intended to provide educational support for both CPA members and non-members.

Member Development and Support


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