Green grass growing in pages of an open book.

Deep Dive into Sustainability – Understanding E, S, and G

Build strong literacy in sustainability by diving deeper into topics impacting organizations across sectors and industries. The course focuses on providing a breadth of topic areas for the learner to gain exposure to a variety of sustainability terminology and information.

This course continues building on the high-level literacy developed in course 1 by diving deeper into sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics that are impacting various organizations across most sectors and industries. The course focuses on providing a breadth of topic areas for the learner to gain exposure to a variety of sustainability terms such as defining what are greenhouse gas emissions? What is Scope 1, 2 and 3? The course also includes other topics such as economic, financial and materiality definitions such as double vs. single materiality issues as they relate to sustainability.

This is the second of four courses within the certificate program: A New Frontier, Sustainability and ESG for CPAs.

Note that members from British Columbia and Alberta will be able to register for this course via their provincial bodies; this product page will be updated once links are available.

Why should I take this course?

The first two courses of this program focus on developing literacy in the sustainability space. It is difficult to be a strategic advisor for an organization and aid with developing governance, internal controls and preparing information that is assurance ready if one does not understand at least some of what they are advising on. We’ve designed courses 1 and 2 to be basic information that builds a foundation of literacy and understanding that is an important foundation to effective reporting.

What’s in it for me?

The competency of sustainability is one of the largest disruptions in the profession in more than 100 years. Developing your knowledge is a gateway to opportunity in this growing field with an increasing number of roles such as sustainability controller popping up. Those who have a base knowledge in sustainability will become increasingly valuable to the organization as well 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 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.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe how key environmental, social, economic and governance issues impact organizations
  • Describe the different frameworks that organizations can use to manage environmental, social, and economic and governance issues
  • Communicate why materiality is important and how to perform a materiality assessment
  • Explain how sustainability impacts financial decisions

In the new CPA competency map this course would be map to levels 1 through 4.

The course is comprised of six online modules:

  1. Materiality
    1. Overview of sustainability and identifying sustainability issues
    2. Materiality Assessment
  2. Environmental
    1. Overview and Importance of Environmental Topics for CPAs
    2. Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change
    3. Other Environmental Topics
  3. Social
    1. Overview and Importance of Social Issues for CPAs
    2. Regulatory and Compliance Issues
    3. Social Issues: Human Rights
    4. Social Issues: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    5. Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Communities
    6. Organizational Issues
  4. Governance
    1. Governance Perspective
    2. ESG’s Financial Implications
    3. ESG Implementation Challenges
  5. Economic
    1. Economic Sustainability Overview
    2. Economic Sustainability in Action
    3. Sustainable Procurement
  6. Financial
    1. Financial and ESG Data

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).

Notes for CPA Alberta and CPA British Columbia members for purchase:

  • CPA Alberta members are encouraged to purchase Course 1 directly from your provincial body here.
  • CPA British Columbia are encouraged to purchase Course 1 directly from your provincial body here.

  • Refresh on financial materiality vs. double materiality
  • Materiality assessment practice
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Climate change, biodiversity
  • Circular economy
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion
  • Rights of Indigenous Peoples / Truth and Reconciliation
  • Labour Management
  • Greenwashing and other washings
  • Board oversight related to ESG
  • Power of partnerships
  • Direct and indirect economic impacts
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Transforming ESG non-financial performance into financial value
  • ESG data

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.)
  • Financial Statement preparers
  • Senior / Executive leaderships roles

Member Development and Support


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