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Sustainability and the future of the profession

Sustainability initiatives are on the rise across Canada and accountants play a valuable role by helping organizations adapt to change. Discover how you can create more value by linking sustainability to strategy and performance.

An increased interest in sustainability is not just changing how we live, but how we think about the future. In a business context, it is about realigning priorities to broaden the concept of value.


Sustainability initiatives encourage innovation because they’re an opportunity to change how companies think about performance and generate concrete competitive benefits. In fact, when organizations take the time to consider factors such as environmental impact, social development or public interest, they consistently come out ahead. Sustainable businesses are more effective, profitable and resilient.

Including sustainability in the decision-making process is a strategic way to focus your organization’s long-term planning. It also encourages companies to re-examine their sense of purpose with customers, clients and stakeholders. Being able to capitalize on the connection between purpose, growth and sustainability is what makes the CPA role in sustainability so unique.


As a CPA, you have the knowledge and skills required to help organizations adapt to change. You can use your expertise to create long-term value by promoting and implementing initiatives in three key areas: financial reporting, leadership and strategic governance.

Financial reporting: Build a robust sustainability reporting framework. Sustainability reporting is voluntary in Canada for now, but more companies are opting in to meet public demand, engage stakeholders and maintain a competitive edge. Sustainability reporting measures are on the rise worldwide and are recommended by IFAC, the OECD, the Global Reporting Initiative and CPA Canada.

Leadership: Advise your organization on how sustainability impacts the bottom line, attracts investors, mitigates risk and drives growth. This includes evaluating investments for long-term gain and embedding improved sustainability practices into everything from operations, supply chains and forecasting to corporate culture. Strong examples of this in action are Deloitte’s sustainability mandate and the City of Vancouver’s plan to increase density.

Strategic governance: Establish benchmark expectations that tie performance management to sustainability outcomes – and yes, that includes executives. This allows for measurable outcomes that link strategy to sustainability and foster an environment where financial data can be used to develop meaningful solutions to business problems. Companies have the power to change the conversation about sustainability and the opportunity to be more accountable when it is supported by metrics, like in The Natural Step’s sustainability scorecard.

“Sustainability is about trust,” said Elisse Walter, a Sustainability Accounting Standards Board member and former chair of the Securities Exchange Commission. “In many ways, it is the essence of good corporate governance.”

To learn more about the future of business, network with other senior leaders and harness the advantages of sustainability, register for this upcoming professional development opportunity:

Sustainability Symposium
In-person conference | February 28, 2018
Toronto, ON | CPD: 8 hours