ACCA Global President Advocates for Sustainable Finance and Net-Zero Transformation

During a recent visit to Sri Lanka, Joseph Owolabi, the Global President of ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), and the CEO of Rubicola Consulting, a highly regarded green finance advisory firm, showcased ACCA's unwavering commitment to fostering sustainability and supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Joseph’s professional background include senior management roles at Deloitte Asia Pacific, PwC Australia, and EY West Africa's Climate Change and Sustainability Services.

Throughout his career, Joseph has played a crucial role in advancing the accounting profession. He has also been a strong advocate for implementing International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) across Africa and a pioneer advisor in advocating for the global adoption of non-financial reporting, specifically sustainability and integrated reporting. He has played a significant part in the issuance of the first Sovereign Green Bond in an emerging market, showcasing his commitment to sustainable finance and environmental initiatives.

Highlighting that ACCA has strategically aligned its mission with nine of the 17 SDGs, Joseph outlined ACCA's belief in the important role of professional accountants in nurturing sustainable economic growth and in driving positive change, fostering a more sustainable future, and creating fairer societies.

Defining how they support implementation in this area, he said that ACCA's approach involves equipping its professional accountants through education and training, enabling them to embed sustainable practices in the organizations they work with, influencing policy, regulation, and standards. 

‘Given that accountants operate across diverse organizations, their influence extends to shaping business decisions, strategies, and corporate reporting, which presents them with a unique opportunity and responsibility to champion sustainability’ noted Joesph.

In addition to its dedication to the UN SDGs, ACCA's 'Accounting for a Better World' agenda presents a comprehensive approach aimed at enhancing the skills and capabilities of its members. It encompasses several key priorities, including building resilient economies, nurturing future talent, promoting sustainable business practices, advancing standards and regulations, transforming the public sector, supporting entrepreneurial growth, and reinforcing ethics and trust. By harnessing each of these distinctive skill sets, ACCA finance professionals have today been successfully guiding, propelling, and seamlessly integrating sustainability strategies across diverse sectors.

Furthermore, in the pursuit of achieving a net-zero future, he noted that ACCA members have assumed a crucial role in assisting organizations, by playing a pivotal part in establishing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies, developing comprehensive net-zero plans with clearly defined targets, embracing green finance products, setting up sustainable finance frameworks, and facilitating the efficient management and reporting of ESG data.

Joesph ighlighted that as international sustainability standards are increasingly adopted, and accountants are placed at the core of sustainability initiatives across various organizations worldwide, ACCA recognizing the growing demand for accountants with expertise in green finance, now offers a range of learning resources to support members in driving the green finance agenda and contributing to the net-zero journey.

 ‘The accountancy profession must prioritize a just transition, striking a balance between social and economic fairness while addressing environmental concerns. Stakeholders and regulators are increasingly focusing on the social implications of organizational actions, making it crucial to measure and report the impact of these activities on society’ explained Joesph.

ACCA's recent report, 'Accounting for Society's Values,' also underlines the importance of considering both environmental and social aspects in a just transition.

Joesph further emphasized ‘Accountancy and finance professionals are well-positioned to lead the way in ensuring that organizations measure and report their performance in these areas. ‘Ultimately, by equipping our members with this expertise, ACCA's hopes to drive positive change that extends far beyond the finance profession, touching the lives of countless individuals and shaping a more prosperous and sustainable world for generations to come’.