Sustainability in accountancy education

Chartered accountants have a fundamental role to play in integrating sustainability into organisations’ business strategy, operations and decision-making. It therefore follows that sustainability should be integrated into the training of a chartered accountant.

ICAEW’s sustainability team is co-ordinating a project, alongside the Accounting Bodies Network (ABN). One key objective is to assess the current level of inclusion of sustainability in the education of qualified professional accountants.

The project will ultimately seek to make a series of observations and recommendations for ABN members and other accountancy bodies.

Surveying views from the profession

The first stage of the project is an examination of current practice, to gain a sense of where the profession is at the moment.

The team have designed a survey to gather and analyse perspectives of where sustainability is currently present in the lifelong learning of the chartered accountant and where the gaps are.

For example, they are looking for insight on the drivers for change in the development of sustainability and an understanding of who in the profession have been enablers and blockers to increasing levels of sustainability.

These are important questions that feed directly into our framework for securing and sustaining trust in the profession, demonstrating that we have a sense of purpose that is more than just financial and that we want our profession and its contributions to benefit everyone.

I shall be completing the survey myself, and would recommend you share your own insights and experiences.

Our team are seeking responses from people who have studied accountancy or studied as professional accountants in the past two years. If you are able to spare just 5-10 minutes, please do consider participating; the more data that is collected, the greater the value will be and the more robust our recommendations will be for the future of the profession.

If you are taking part as an individual – a student, a member of an accountancy body, or a professional qualification examiner – please visit

If you are taking part as an organisation – either an education institution or a professional education provider – please visit

A vision for the future

Following the conclusion of the survey, the second stage of the project will involve a series of workshops, seeking to develop a vision of the skills needed for the future. Specifically, it will look at what the role of the professional accountant could be in 2030 – the year we aim to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

The expectation is that this project will generate a set of recommendations for future activity and research. We anticipate that the resulting outputs will be of use to accountancy bodies in advancing their sustainability agenda.