The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) was established by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales in 2004 with the aim of inspiring action by finance leaders to drive a fundamental shift towards resilient business models and a sustainable economy.
To do this, the organisation has three core aims:
- inspire finance leaders to adopt sustainable and resilient business models
- Transform financial decision making to enable an integrated approach, reflective of the opportunities and risks posed by environmental and social issues
- Scale up action across the global finance and accounting community
The project works with finance communities around the world and is actively expanding its networks globally. ICMIF member The Co-operators (Canada) is already involved in the A4S and Karen Higgins, Executive Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, The Co-operators Group, is one of the Canadian A4S Chapter members.
At the A4S Summit 2018 (19 November 2018), in front of an audience of 200 senior finance professionals from corporate and financial institutions, The Prince of Wales was presented with 70 stories from individuals who have been inspired by him to take action to deliver resilient businesses and a sustainable economy.
The stories, had been collated from letters from senior finance professionals to The Prince of Wales, highlighted the significant impact he has had through the A4S project on the global finance and accounting community. Many of the letters speak of how people have been profoundly inspired to change the course of their lives and do what they can to protect the planet through the adoption of sustainable and resilient business models.
The aim was to collate 70 stories covering each of the key communities which the A4S Project believes are so vital to change: Chief Financial Officers; accountants; investors; governments and regulators; and business schools. According to the A4S, action by the finance and accounting community alone is not sufficient to tackle the challenges presented by climate change and the depletion of finite natural resources, but without the information needed to inform decision making and the finance invested to deliver sustainable outcomes, averting crisis will be impossible.
One of the leaders invited to share a story for His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales was Shaun Tarbuck, ICMIF CEO. In his letter to The Prince of Wales, Tarbuck spoke of how ICMIF members have been at the forefront of corporate social responsibility reporting for over 20 years now, due to their longer-term thinking and greater alignment with the communities they serve. There is also, he said, a desire amongst mutual and cooperative insurers to protect both their immediate communities as well as our planet as a whole. Many ICMIF members have led the way in terms of CSR reporting, including the Co-op Insurance (UK) and Folksam (Sweden) who, at one point, led the world in producing CSR reports and other ICMIF members soon followed their lead. Therefore it seemed natural to Tarbuck when he heard about A4S and its aims that ICMIF would partner with and get actively engaged in their work.
In his letter, Tarbuck explained that the mutual insurance sector which ICMIF represents is about a third of global insurance assets and premiums and so this size and gravitas, he hopes, can bring significant influence to A4S projects thanks to an already engaged and enlightened part of the insurance sector which has values which are very much aligned with the aims of A4S.
The first opportunity for ICMIF to promote A4S came at the ICMIF Conference in 2015 in Minneapolis with Jessica Fries, Executive Chairman, A4S, as a key speaker.
The partnership between A4S and ICMIF is one founded on shared values and shared purpose and in his letter to The Prince of Wales, Tarbuck spoke of his hope that ICMIF would encourage more member organisations to become involved in the work of the A4S as the work of A4S expands on a global basis. Tarbuck affirmed his commitment to continue to promote the great work already being done to convince CFOs that there is a way to incorporate sustainable financial practices in accounting reporting. The role for the finance community in achieving a sustainable world is critical and mutuals and cooperatives are ideal candidates to become actively involved in this work.
Picture shows Shaun Tarbuck and The Prince of Wales in November 2017 at the Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) Summit which was held at St. James’s Palace in London.