Alliance MBS has won a grant from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to investigate how organisations embed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their strategic business decisions.
The project, entitled Calculating sustainability: on making accounting numbers central again, aims to provide a management and reporting framework to align the SDGs to accounting measures. Paolo Quattrone, Professor of Accounting, Governance and Society, is heading the project at AMBS and will also be working with Professor Ariela Caglio at Bocconi University in Milan.
As Prof Quattrone explained: “The rising importance of SDGs is causing a profound structural shift in the way capitalism is conceived, driving the need to change existing models of reporting that no longer reflect this. This project will reinforce the central role that accounting professionals can play as ‘mediators and orchestrators of the production of sustainable value’, making organisations accountable for their financial, social and environmental conduct.”
The project has four key objectives. Firstly, to provide a management and reporting framework to explore how the pursuit of SDGs relates to the production and distribution of accounting values. A Sustainable Value-added Table (SVT) would allow companies to trace SDG activities and question themselves on the trade-offs between negative impacts (consumption of natural resources in the production of value) and positive impacts (redistribution of the value created with the definition of nature as a further stakeholder).
Secondly the proposed framework will “clearly communicate the contribution of accountants’ work to sustainable development through the use of new, more comparable, financially focused, performance metrics,” says Professor Quattrone, therefore making accountants regain central stage in the sustainability debate.
The project aims to produce case study-based illustrations of applied principles and practices to offer the profession a set of critical examples specifically intended to be used for shaping new education patterns for the profession, and to empower management accountants in their new roles.