The Guidance Note, developed through an international multi-stakeholder consultation process, will strengthen the consistency and credibility of sustainability reporting and assurance, and will also enhance and clarify the understanding of the principles for both assurance providers and reporting organisations.

The principles underpin the AA1000 Assurance Standard which, since its appearance in 2003 as the first international sustainability assurance standard, has had significant positive influence on the quality of sustainability reporting and assurance. The standard is now used by leading organisations such as Coca Cola, BP, British Airways, Diageo, Fuji Film, HSBC, Intel and Novo Nordisk, as well as by leading assurance organizations such as KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, E&Y, URS, SGS and LRQA.

The Guidance Note will help to ensure that assured reports present a complete view of an organisation’s understanding and response to its material sustainability issues. This will give users greater confidence that they are not being presented with selective and out of context information.

According to Jennifer Iansen-Rogers, Senior Manager at KPMG Sustainability, and Co-Chair of AccountAbility’s Technical Committee, the Guidance Note is a welcome addition.

“Since the launch of the AA1000 Assurance Standard in 2003, assurance providers and their clients have been grappling with the interpretation of the three principles. I believe the Principles Guidance Note will clarify many of the questions around the application of the standard and help to ensure a more uniform approach to AA1000AS assurance engagements. This will benefit not only the assurance providers but also the organisations seeking assurance.”

Paul Monaghan, Head of Ethics and Sustainable Development at the Co-Operative Group, and Co-Chair of AccountAbility’s Technical Committee notes:

“The best just got better. AA1000AS has for some time shown the way for sustainability reporters and assurors, and ensured that stakeholders are given a central role in considerations of materiality and responsiveness. This welcome further clarification of the assurance standard will hopefully act as another nail in the coffin of hyped up sustainability reports and dubious assurance statements.”