In response to increasing stakeholder expectations more companies are reporting on their corporate social and environmental performance in addition to their normal financial reporting measures. As this trend increases, so too will the need for providing assurance on this information and the systems and processes used to generate it.
ASEC Sustainability Assurance and Advisory Task Force
Given the increasing trend in assurance of sustainability-related information, the AICPA Assurance Services Executive Committee (ASEC) convened the Sustainability Assurance and Advisory Task Force (the “Task Force”) in December 2012. The Task Force covers member needs and opportunities related to the reporting and assurance of sustainabiity-related information (also referred to as environmental, social and governance (ESG) information).
In late 2019, the Task Force convened the Sustainability Disclosures Assurance Working Group to develop a road map for audit practitioners, in partnership with the Center for Audit Quality, to help audit practitioners understand the risk and legal considerations associated with performing attestation engagements on ESG information that is disclosed in SEC filings. The roadmap is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2021.
ASB Sustainability Task Force
In late July 2017, the task force published the following guide: Attestation Engagements on Sustainability Information (Including Greenhouse Gas Emissions Information). The Guide was developed to assist practitioners engaged to perform an examination or review engagement of an entity’s sustainability information and includes performance and reporting guidance on applying the clarified attestation standards to the subject matter of sustainability information.The guide supersedes AICPA Statement of Position (SOP) 13-1, Attest Engagements on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Information. The content of that SOP was updated for the clarified attestations standards and included in the guide.
This guide assists CPAs with interpreting and applying the clarified attestation standards (SSAE No. 18) when performing examination or review engagements on sustainability information. In March 2018, a new appendix was added to the guide. The appendix includes illustrative reports for an engagement to examine or review sustainability information submitted to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). In this regard, RobecoSAM has indicated that they expect the illustrative reports to meet their requirements.
The AICPA convened a task force to provide practitioners with guidance relating to Independent Private Sector Audit's of an organization's Conflict Minerals Report.