What is the accountancy profession’s role in delivering the UN Global Goals?

Earlier this week ICAEW hosted an event which brought together representatives from the member institutes of Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) to discuss the role of the profession in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was the first time that a group of over 80 Chartered Accountants from around the world came together to discuss the SGDs with the objective to encourage our collective CAW network of 1.6m members and students to get involved.

ICAEW has done plenty of work around the SDGs since they were adopted by the UN in September 2015 and our vision – a world of strong economies – is very much aligned with the Goals. Our Royal Charter requires us to act in the public interest, however defining what the public interest actually means has always been difficult. The SDGs represent what governments from 190 countries have decided are the most important things for the world to achieve and can thereby be said to represent what is in the public interest on a global scale.

For the Goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part and we believe that the accountancy profession has a key role to play. At the heart of who we are as a profession are measurement and the provision of timely information together with insight and interpretation. This means that we are able to provide a picture of how we are doing, so that informed business decisions can be made and so that governments, organisations and individuals can be held to account. The closer we get to 2030, the more valuable this contribution will be.

However we must remember that we have more to offer than skills in measurement and reporting; for example we are able to contribute by improving access to education, training and decent work and by driving economic growth. But as this week’s event highlighted, we must also bear in mind the Goals’ interconnectivity and be careful not to disregard those that may not seem immediately relevant to our profession. After all, the SDGs exist because we have realised that we cannot go on as we are and that we need to start thinking differently.

The vision the Goals paint of the world we want by 2030 is hugely ambitious and very different from the world we know today. Our profession has a history of coming together to serve the public interest and it was great to see this week that institutes from around the world are prepared to play an active role in delivering the Goals.