On May 10, AccountAbility released a new version of its AA1000 AccountAbility Principles Standard (AA1000AP:2018). The standard is not only a commonly used framework for sustainability management, but also serves as the basis for external assurance of sustainability reports. The revision of the standard, in which DQS participated as a working group member, leads to some important changes.

The goal of the AA1000AP standard is to provide organizations with a practical set of guiding principles to assess, manage, improve and communicate their sustainability performance. The standard is often used in combination with the AA1000 Assurance Standard (AA1000AS), which acts as the basis for third-party report verification .

The principles

Organizations that have their sustainability reports externally verified to AA1000 should be aware of the changes to the AA1000 Principles. This is because these principles form the basis for the entire verification process. The previous version of the standard includes three guiding principles:

  • Inclusivity - Having a say in decisions that affect oneself.
  • Materiality - Decision-makers are called upon to clearly identify which sustainability issues are important
  • Responsiveness - Organizations are called upon to deal transparently and effectively with sustainability issues and their impacts.

A fourth principle has now been added to these three principles:

  • Impact - Organizations are to monitor and measure their activities. They are accountable for how their actions affect the surrounding ecosystem.

Dr. Sied Sadek, Managing Director of DQS CFS GmbH and member of the AA1000 working group, explains the addition of the fourth principle as follows: "In recent years, sustainability management has increasingly evolved into a solution-oriented approach. The focus is not on goodwill, but on identifying and measuring impacts in a way that allows all stakeholders to respond appropriately."

The standard includes a description of the principles and can be downloaded for free from the AccountAbility website.

Compliance with GRI standards

For organizations that already prepare their sustainability reports according to the GRI standards, the new fourth principle does not change much: the GRI standards already require organizations to measure their key economic, environmental and social impacts for all material areas and disclose them accordingly.

Transition period

The AA1000AP (2018) replaces the previous AccountAbility Principle Standard (AA1000APS, 2008). Organizations wishing to undergo report verification using the AA1000 Assurance Standard (AA1000AS) on or after January 1, 2019 should use the new 2018 version. For reports published before this date, organizations can continue to use the predecessor AA1000APS (2008).

What DQS can do for you

As an AA1000-licensed certification body, DQS offers external verification for your sustainability reports (GRI, Global Compact, ISO 26000, ...). External report verification increases the transparency and credibility of sustainability reports and provides assurance to all stakeholders that reports are an accurate and complete reflection of sustainability performance. Upon request, we can also offer workshops covering the implementation of the AA1000 principles.

Author
Dr. Thijs Willaert

Dr. Thijs Willaert is Global Director Sustainability Services. In this role, he is responsible for the entire ESG service portfolio of DQS. His areas of interest include sustainable procurement, human rights due diligence and ESG audits.

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