Climate and Sustainability Reporting – How to become an expert

In 2015, the members states of the UN approved the Paris Agreement committing national economies to take action that addresses climate change. These resolutions in short requires industrial production to reduce emissions of CO2 and then report on the progress made.

 “The SA Government is required to effect the resolutions in South Africa by making subsequent amendments to relevant legislation such as the Companies Act by for example requiring companies to report their climate change efforts in their financial statements.” 

The current estimate of 2 000 000 active South African companies registered with the CIPC will be required to comply with the requirements of the Companies Act. 

Accountants at various levels from bookkeeper, financial administrators, financial managers, chief financial offers, and those providing external support services to companies as accountants in practice, are crucial in the implementation and reporting in terms of the UN resolutions and amendments. 

“Companies will need accountants to implement, monitor and report using accounting software, working papers, and integrated reports. Assurance providers will be required to perform financial and non-financial engagements such as audits, reviews, assurance, and factual findings on the reports prepared by accountants.” 

The reporting regime for climate and sustainability reporting is likely to be applied in a staggered approach to distinguish between large, medium and small companies. This will ensure an equitable access to all accountants within the sector for example:

Type Framework Assurance Scope
Large companies
Full sustainability reporting
Medium companies
Part sustainability reporting
Small companies
Modified cash
Factual finding
Limited sustainability reporting
To assist accountants and especially CFOs with preparing for the new reporting regime SAIBA provides the following qualifying criteria when issuing designations for CFOs and Financial Managers ensuring that they become expert CFOS in Climate and Sustainability reporting able to lead their finance teams:
Qualification Experience Assessed Designation CPD CFO License
8 years
40 hours
Climate Reporting
4 years
30 hours
Climate Reporting

Resources to get you started

CFO Alliance

Listed companies stand to lose more than $10 trillion in funding if they don’t adopt new climate reporting standards.
“The world’s largest United States-based asset management company, BlackRock, which has $10 trillion under management, recently announced that – by 2050 – it will only invest in companies that are able to report net zero emissions in their financial statements and integrated reports”
This follows the new urgency at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) to address climate change issues, and the agreement by global powers to put legislation into place to compel companies to report on their climate change efforts in pursuit of a net-zero emissions target by 2050.
COP26 also created a category for Chief Financial Officers (CFO) – the CFO Task Force – in the realisation that climate change efforts cannot be separated from business and with the understanding that there is an urgent need to involve key decision makers in reporting on progress as it relates to the climate change agenda.
To represent the views of CFOs in Europe, Africa and Americas CFO organisations established the CFO Alliance.
The CFO Alliance represents the interest of CFOs with the World BankUNCTADInternational Sustainability Standards Board and other stakeholders. The purpose is to ensure CFOs understand the new reporting requirements, and contribute to the reporting outcomes to ensure a fair, equitable and differential reporting regime.
Following these and other developments, SAIBA met with its sister association, the Association Nationale des Directeurs Financiers et de Contrôle de Gestion (DFCG), and other affiliate CFO institutes from Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Western Africa at the annual Financium conference, held in Paris on 7 December 2021. At this event the CFO Alliance was launched.
The CFO Alliance has identified three areas of interest and established
working groups for each:
  1. Climate Change and Sustainability Reporting
  2. Automation and Digitisation
  3. International Tax
CFOs that want to become experts in each area should volunteer to join the working groups. This will ensure they contribute, shape and stay up dated on how to integrate organisations process to support the big subject areas.
Send an email to to be invited to the workgroup meetings scheduled quarterly.

CFO Resources

UNCTAD-ISAR Tools and Publications 

In 2015, Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, containing 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. A further 232 indicators was adopted to enable governments to monitor implementation.
   “In particular, SDG 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production in its Target 12.6 explicitly encourages companies to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycles .”
Indicator 12.6.1 requires data on the number of companies publishing sustainability reports. UNCTAD and UN Environment are co-custodians of indicator 12.6.1 and thus responsible for developing metadata guidance and collecting data. In this regard, company reporting may be an important data source, as relevant data on companies’ contribution towards the SDGs is critical for:
  • Assessing the progress of the SDG implementation.
  • Enhancing the SDG-oriented corporate governance mechanisms, decision-making by investors and other key stakeholders.
  • Promoting behavioural change at the enterprise level.
UNCTAD-ISAR Tools and publications on Sustainability Reporting:
International Sustainability Standards
International investors with global investment portfolios are increasingly calling for high quality, transparent, reliable and comparable reporting by companies on climate and other environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters.
On 3 November 2021, the IFRS Foundation Trustees announced the creation of a new standard-setting board—the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)—to help meet this demand.
The intention is for the ISSB to deliver a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability- related disclosure standards that provide investors and other capital market participants with information about companies’ sustainability-related risks and opportunities to help them make informed decisions.

License in Climate Change and Sustainability Reporting

You can obtain an official license issued by the Southern African Institute for Business Accountants (SAIBA) that recognises your expertise in climate reporting.
A licensed program for C-suite executives and board members focused specifically on environmental strategy and oversight. This intensive and interactive eLearning experience will ensure you’re prepared to tackle the E in #ESG.
   The programme is offered by leading business schools and is accredited by SAIBA for membership to the CFO Alliance. The programme is designed to help corporate directors and C-level executives be better equipped to oversee climate risk and strategy for their companies.
Created in collaboration with industry experts, the program is available as a self-paced e-learning experience. The program includes six courses with video panel sessions featuring subject matter and industry experts, curated readings, interactive exercises, and online and face-face networking among participants.
Send an email to to receive a detailed overview of the licensed program.

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Quick links

The Workspace at The Club
Cnr Pinaster Avenue and 18th Street
The Club Shopping Centre, Second Floor
South Africa

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Melrose Arch
44 Melrose Boulevard
South Africa

Tel. 012-643-1800 |

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