As climate change is more often becoming a key source of business risk and opportunities, companies face an increased need to report on their sustainability performance.
Over the last few years, many reporting initiatives, from UN- and EU-mandated schemes to industry-driven standards, have been proposed.
Addressing the challenges of reporting
To succeed with the green shift, the financial industry and the financial function in companies play a key role. The financial industry must contribute to finance the necessary investments and assess the risk of the transition.
Yet, managers of both small and large enterprises are finding it difficult to navigate the rapidly changing disclosure requirements and the vast array of methodologies and tools available to report on environmental impacts, circularity, and climate performance indicators.
"Right now, it is difficult to measure how sustainable companies actually are, and there is little standardized data. However, we cannot let this hold us back on the issue and we must accelerate the work on standardized, relevant, and mandatory reporting on non-financial ESG matrix. The collective financial industry must work even harder to assess the risks and opportunities in the green transition, in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement", says Lars Løddesøl, CFO of Storebrand.
Accurate and informative reporting on these metrics are increasingly becoming a requirement for serious businesses, as shareholders, stakeholders, and governments expect to be informed on how firms manage key environmental risks and contribute to the shift to a carbon-neutral and sustainable economy.
Economists hold an important key
New regulations are soon going to be introduced in the EU to ensure that all companies are aligned and reporting the same KPIs concerning sustainability.
This will make the EU the first major jurisdiction to mandate sustainability reporting in the same way as financial reporting.
Sustainability data will therefore become as important as financial data going forward, which is why future winners are the companies with sustainable and profitable business models and strategies.
"There is no green growth without us being able to measure it. Accountants and CFOs play an important role going forward, as they have the tools to hold both countries and companies accountable. The naked truth is revealed in the numbers", says Christine Lundberg Larsen, former CEO at Accounting Norway and upcoming head of Amesto Footprint.
From CFO to Chief Value Officer
Financial professionals are increasingly engaged in developing and integrating sustainability strategies. The focus has shifted from a financial point of view to bringing sustainable value to the company and customers.
For a global industry like shipping, reducing emissions is the most important environmental issue to solve. While the industry cooperates to find green solutions, companies strive to develop sustainable strategies, continuous environmental improvements, and reporting according to new regulations and standards.
The finance function is at the center of all of this. One challenge mentioned is how to get data for relevant KPIs. The data needed has never been measured before and all industries desperately need this knowledge.
"I believe economists of the future should gain relevant expertise in ESG and the green shift as this is becoming more critical for financial functions in a company", says Mette Krabberød, CFO of Color Line AS.
Through BI’s Msc of Sustainable Finance, students gain a broad understanding of what it means to be a CVO. The program goes in-depth into core economic theories that address sustainability and ESG issues, their macroeconomic aspects, and corporate dimensions. Short courses are also on offer.