Raising standards: part 3

5th February 2015

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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Management ,
  • Reporting ,
  • Certification ,
  • Auditing


Nicole Buckley

The third part in our occasional series on environment and sustainability standards and guidance focuses on auditing and reporting.

These include ISO standards on the quantification and reporting of greenhouse-gas emissions, which are being revised, the G4 guidelines on sustainability reporting from the Global Reporting Initiative, the AA1000 series of sustainability assurance standards, and the ISO 19011 guidelines on auditing management systems.

The next part will examine the standards and guidelines on organisational risk and resilience.



14064 – greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions

14064-1: 2006 specifies the organisation-level principles and requirements for the quantification and reporting of GHG emissions and removals. It includes requirements for the development, reporting and verification of a GHG inventory.

14064-2: 2006 specifies the principles and requirements, and provides guidance on the quantification, monitoring and reporting of activities to reduce and remove GHG emissions at project level.

14064-3: 2006 specifies and provides guidance for those conducting or managing the validation and/or verification of GHG assertions. It can be applied to GHG quantification, monitoring and reporting carried out in accordance with 14064-1 or ISO 14064-2.

In October 2014, ISO announced that its technical committee for GHG management, TC207/SC7, is to review the 14064 series of standards – as well as 14065: 2013, which specifies the principles and requirements for bodies that undertake validation or verification of GHG assertions – to ensure they meet changing market needs. The 14064 series was last revised in 2009.

Environmental reporting guidelines

Defra’s environmental reporting guidelines, including mandatory GHG emissions reporting guidance, are intended to help eligible companies comply with their obligations to report GHG emissions as well as all organisations to voluntarily report on a range of environmental matters, from voluntary GHG disclosures to key performance indicators. The guidelines were last updated in October 2013.

Climate change reporting framework

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) is revising its climate change reporting framework, which was first published in September 2010. The new version should be available in March. The framework sets out to assist organisations in preparing and presenting environmental information in mainstream reports for the benefit of investors. The CDSB says that information prepared in accordance with the framework will enable investors to assess the relationship between specific environmental information and the organisation’s strategy, performance and prospects.

Integrated reporting – international framework

Published in December 2013 by the Integrated Reporting Council, the international framework establishes the guiding principles and content elements for integrated company reports. There are seven principles, ranging from strategic focus and future orientation to consistency and comparability. The nine content elements include organisational overview and external environment, risks and opportunities, and strategy and resource allocation.

G4 – sustainability reporting guidelines

The latest version (G4) of the sustainability reporting guidelines from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) are designed to support reporters in preparing sustainability reports and to ensure the content focuses on information about the organisation’s most critical sustainability-related issues. Sections include criteria to be applied by an organisation to prepare its sustainability report “in accordance” with the guidelines, reporting principles, and standard disclosures. GRI also produces sector supplements – for airport operators, construction and real estate, electric utilities, event organisers, financial services, food processing, media, mining and metals, NGOs, and oil and gas – to use in combination with G4.

AA1000 – assurance standards

AA1000APS: 2008 – the accountability principles standard. APS provides a framework for an organisation to identify, prioritise and respond to its sustainability challenges. The principles cover inclusivity, materiality and responsiveness. They are based on the premise that an accountable organisation will take action to: establish a strategy based on a comprehensive determination of all issues that are material to it and its stakeholder; establish goals and standards against which its strategy and performance can be judged; and disclose credible information to stakeholders about strategy, issues and performance.

AA1000AS: 2008 – assurance standard. First published in 2003, AS requires the assurance provider to evaluate the extent of adherence to a set of principles rather than simply assess the reliability of data. It demands that the assurance provider look at the underlying management approaches, systems and processes and how stakeholders have participated.

AA1000AES: 2011 – stakeholder engagement standard. AES provides a principles-based, open-source framework for stakeholder engagement and supports the AA1000APS. It can be used as a standalone standard or as a mechanism to achieve the stakeholder requirements of other standards, including the G4 sustainability reporting guidelines (above).

ISAE3000 – assurance engagements

ISAE3000 – the international standard on assurance engagements is designed to guide accountants, auditors and assurance professionals
when undertaking non-financial audits.

ISAE 3410 – assurance engagements on GHG statements provides guidance for practitioners involved in assurance engagements. An engagement in accordance with ISAE 3410 must also comply with
the requirements of ISAE 3000.

19011: 2011 – guidelines for auditing management systems

19011 provides guidance on auditing management systems, including environmental management systems (EMS). It covers the principles of auditing, managing an audit programme and conducting management system assessments. It also provides information on evaluating the competence of individuals involved in the audit process. The 2011
version replaced the 2002 edition.

17021/17022 – conformity assessment

The 17021 series contains principles and requirements for the competence, consistency and impartiality of the audit and certification of management systems, including an EMS.

17021: 2011 – requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems; 17021-2 – competence requirements for auditing and certification of environmental management systems; and 17021-4
– competence requirements for auditing and certification of event sustainability management systems.

17022: 2012 contains requirements and recommendations to be addressed in a third-party management system certification audit report.


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