Brock event to lead international conversation on sustainability reporting

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the focus on environmental, social and governance issues by investors, policy-makers and educators. But the absence of a global standard is hindering the widespread adoption of sustainability reporting.

To help shape the future course of sustainability reporting, Brock University is bringing together global experts to kick-start a discussion Friday, May 14 from 9 to 11 a.m. To date, more than 3,500 participants have already registered for the online event being hosted by the Goodman School of Business’s CPA Ontario Centre for Public Policy and Innovation in Accounting.

“Goodman is proud to welcome the leading experts in sustainability reporting and practitioners from around the world to engage in a dialogue on this important topic,” said Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes.

The event will feature two sustainability reporting panels, the first looking at meeting stakeholder needs and the second discussing materiality versus corporate greenwashing.

The stakeholder needs panel, moderated by Goodman Accounting Professor Fayaz Elayan, will feature: Irene Heemskerk, Sustainability Fellow at the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation; Robert Hirth, Co-Vice Chair of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board; Carol Wilding, President and CEO of CPA Ontario; and Anup Srivastava, Canada Research Chair in Accounting at the University of Calgary.

Mengtian Li, Assistant Professor of Accounting at Goodman, will moderate the materiality versus greenwashing panel featuring: Rosemary McGuire, Director of External Reporting and Capital Markets at CPA Canada; Patrick Kabuya, Senior Governance Specialist at the World Bank; Jo-anne Matear, Manager of Corporate Finance at the Ontario Securities Commission; and Samir Trabelsi, Professor of Accounting and Governance at Goodman.

Trabelsi, who is also the event organizer, says business reporting has expanded beyond financial reporting and it’s important for practitioners and users to have these discussions.

“Sustainability standards should be stakeholder driven but there needs to be a set of checks and balances put in place to keep organizations from engaging in greenwashing,” he says. “The accounting profession has an obligation to stay informed, communicate and be an active participant in shaping the future course of sustainability reporting.”

Brock President Gervan Fearon, who is also a CPA, CGA, is looking forward to the University hosting this important conversation.

“The environmental, social and government (ESG) approach is expanding the definition of corporate social responsibility and its implications within the accounting profession,” Fearon says. “Without question, ESG factors affect both the income statement and balance sheet of organizations and, equally important, how corporations and organizations make decisions.”

He says corporations can no longer ignore ESG issues. 

“We must take them into account in fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities and duty of care which increasingly extend beyond the corporations’ financial statements alone to include the social fabric of the very societies in which corporations operate,” says Fearon. “Corporate reputation, goodwill and social license are increasingly being defined by ESG.”

The free event is open to the public and interested participants can register here to receive the link to the livestream. A video recording will be made available for those not able to attend the event live.

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