With climate change continuing to rage on, and humans identified as the biggest culprits behind this unprecedented global catastrophe, the crucial role Accountants can play in protecting the planet, by promoting greener financing and sustainability was highlighted this week.
The largest ever regional hybrid accounting assembly of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) hosted in Colombo, was ceremoniously inaugurated on Wednesday, 06th October 2021.
The 20th CAPA Conference, which was hosted alongside CA Sri Lanka’s very own 42nd National Conference of Chartered Accountants revolving around the theme “Heritage – Many Businesses, One Planet” was inaugurated in the presence of a distinguished audience including Mr. Alan Johnson, President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, 2021 Blue Planet Prize Laureate and Vice Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Chen Yugui, President of CAPA and Mr. Brian Blood, Chief Executive of CAPA joined the event virtually, while Mr. Manil Jayesinghe, President of CA Sri Lanka, Mr. Sanjaya Bandara, Vice President of CA Sri Lanka, Mr. Tishan Subasinghe, Chairman of the CAPA and National Conference Main Committee, Mrs. Anoji De Silva, Chairperson of the Conference Technical Committee and Mrs. Dulani Fernando, Chief Executive Officer of CA Sri Lanka joined the event in Colombo. Delegates from over 30 countries connected with the three-day event which concluded on Friday.
Delivering the keynote speech, Dr. Iyad Abumoghli, Founder and Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Faith for Earth Initiative said that the world is facing an unprecedented triple crisis of climate change, degradation of nature and pollution, whilst also experiencing the warmest decade ever recorded in history, apart from an increase in raging forest fires, floods, and sandstorms.
“Humans are the biggest contributors to climate change. Every year we are consuming more than double of what the earth has generated. Currently as of July, we have consumed all that the earth has generated. So, this means, we need almost 2 planets to be able to sustain our living,” he cautioned.
He highlighted that the solution to this is to transform from a brown economy to a green economy. According to Abumoghli, a brown economy, is known to use and abuse nature, whilst the green economy is known to work with nature and provide better opportunities and options for the people and planet.
He proposed that the accounting profession promote the natural capital accounting concept, which integrates nature and the natural resources in the budgeting and accounting of a business. Elaborating further, he said, “the natural accounting concept includes not only the use of raw material but also the impact on nature as part of the accounting system, so it gives an estimated budget for mitigating and avoiding the impact on nature. This is being committed and promoted by a number of countries, while some parliaments have actually mandated this as an important element in their financing system,” he said.
Addressing the delegates who connected from all over the world, Chief Guest Mr. Johnson said that the future will depend on the choices everyone makes. “But as a profession, we can, and we must use what we see now to make informed decisions to build sustainability into the foundational systems and institutions. Because not only is it an incredibly important need for the profession to fulfil its public mandate, and embody a new environmental ethic, but there is an incredible opportunity for us to help those in the private and public sectors to make tough choices. So let us use this opportunity to do what is right for the long-term benefit of all,” he said.
In conclusion, the head of the global accounting body highlighted that the accounting profession can create a better and more resilient world, by enabling stronger economies and fairer societies.
Addressing the hybrid accounting assembly, Guest of Honour Prof. Munasinghe urged professional bodies such as CAPA and CA Sri Lanka to play a key catalyst role in bringing together businesses, society, and governments to cooperate and ensure sustainable development.
According to him, sustainomics which is defined as “a transdisciplinary, integrative, comprehensive, balanced, heuristic, and practical framework for making development more sustainable, is the way forward. He said that ethical values in accounting also play a key role in promoting inclusive green based growth by utilising the sustainomics concept.
“Let us act together now,” he said, while adding that multiple global problems pose a serious challenge to all, but they can be solved together provided everyone start now.
“Accounting professionals can mobilise business and civil society to work with governments and even push governments to do the right thing, and accountants can play a key role in devising the new 21st century path to sustainable development in Sri Lanka and the whole world,” he added.
The CAPA Conference is a flagship regional event held every four years, whilst the National Conference of CA Sri Lanka is recognised as the biggest annual business summit held in Sri Lanka. Every year, the national conference attracts over 2000 participants including business leaders and c-suite executives.
In his speech, President of CA Sri Lanka, Mr. Jayesinghe said that the time for action is now, not tomorrow or the day after, but the time is now for the profession to re-evaluate its priorities and take that all important step towards protecting the planet. “Now is the time to make the change, and now is the time for us all to be part of the change, so that ultimately our children and their children will have a planet to live in.”
President of CAPA Dr. Yugui who connected with the event virtually reiterated that the accountancy profession needs to take a holistic perspective on how it can play its part today, for a better tomorrow, for all. “We must harness the positives of technology, forge a meaningful and sustainable future, and leave a heritage we can all be proud of.”
Chair of the main committee Mr. Subasinghe, in his address said that the mega accounting assembly was a historic milestone for CA Sri Lanka, as it had the privilege of hosting the flagship CAPA Conference for the first time in South Asia in over a decade. “I hope this landmark accounting assembly will be an important platform which will help us understand our scope and responsibility to our planet, and the critical role accountants can play in helping save our planet.”
CAPA Chief Executive, Mr. Blood who connected with the conference virtually said that as a profession that has truly evolved from six decades ago the accounting profession is indeed ‘dutybound’ to leave a legacy and heritage that will support the strengthening of financial markets and economies
Elaborating on the theme of the conference, Ms. De Silva said that the aim was to start a thought leadership with all our business leaders and finance professionals to challenge the type of business heritage, that accountants plan to leave behind.
The landmark event, which attracted top accounting and finance professionals from Asia and Pacific concluded on Friday following two days of technical sessions, featuring over 40 international and local speakers and panelists.