Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
By Nume Horsfall
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has advised governments, regulators and various interest groups to initiate policies that will help Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) become more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The professional body made the call in a recent paper tagged ‘Embedding Sustainability in SMEs’ presented at a global forum for SMEs.
It argued that despite representing more than 90 per cent of global businesses and accounting, about 50 per cent of gross domestic product and 63 per cent of employment with a significant impact on industrial pollution, SMEs had been marginalised in the debate about sustainable business practices.
The association added: “For instance, in the European Union (EU), only 29 per cent of SMEs have introduced measures to save energy or raw materials (compared with 46 per cent of large enterprises) and only four per cent have a comprehensive energy efficiency system.
“A series of SME-specific measures and approaches will need to be adopted, if these efforts are to gain any significant momentum –with policy makers taking into account not only the differences between large companies and SMEs, but also the differences between micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.”
It listed five steps SMEs should follow to ensure sustainability reporting to include: committing the business publicly to taking action; assessing the business’ impact; setting targets for reducing impact; acting to reduce impact and publishing the business’ policies and actions.
Accountants were also urged to work with local environmental-sustainability experts in order to gain local access to credible knowledge as well as to review the environmental sustainability of their own businesses.
Also Chairman of ACCA’s Global Forum for SMEs, Mark Gold said: “All too often, small business is overlooked when it comes to environmental and sustainability issues.
“But in terms of economic activity, employment and waste, small businesses make a huge impact and it is critical that they and those who advise and regulate them, recognise this and begin to take steps to tackle waste, promote efficiency and ensure that sustainability is at the forefront of their thinking.”