Undertaking external sustainability assurance

An independent external assurance engagement will provide comfort to your stakeholders that the data you are reporting is accurate and that you are reporting on the issues that matter most. It also provides stakeholders with comfort that your systems are robust and that your sustainability data is complete accurate and reliable. If your goal is to obtain a public statement that provides an opinion on your data and systems, then external assurance is the answer.  We tailor our assurance services to your needs, with the scope of work and level of assurance designed accordingly, whether for voluntary or regulatory purposes.

For many organisations, compliance with voluntary reporting schemes can be a driver or an outcome of embarking on a sustainability management journey. Obtaining assurance helps generate trust in the sustainability reports released by organisations showing progress against sustainability targets and commitments and how an organisation manages sustainability risks and opportunities, both now and in the future.

Sustainability frameworks/initiatives such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and Corporate Responsibility Index (CRI) are globally recognised and used extensively across different industries. Net Balance has experience working with all of these frameworks, and a number of our staff have been instrumental in development of the GRI’s G4 Guidelines and the Integrated Reporting framework.  

Net Balance can help you achieve adherence to major sustainability frameworks/initiatives by providing assurance over sustainability disclosures in compliance with GRI, CDP, DJSI, GHG Protocol, UNGC, UNPRI, ICMM or CRI, based on international best practices, standards and in-house expertise. We regularly review and adapt our internal protocols to align with existing standards and current best practices, including the AA1000 Assurance Standard (2008), the GRI Reporting Guidelines and the ASAE3000 standard for auditing of non-financial information. Having your report assured increases the credibility of your sustainability reporting to the Board, management and external stakeholders.

Sustainability reports, Corporate Responsibility reports, Sustainable development reports and Sustainability disclosures located within Annual reports

We use the most widely recognised sustainability assurance standards: AccountAbility’s AA1000 and an accounting standard: ASAE 3000 and can also work using the ASAE3410 (for GHG) or to specified ISO standards. As well as a public assurance statement, our team will also provide a management report with value add recommendations. We believe in continuous improvement and will work with you to achieve best practice in your sustainability performance and reporting.

GRI: Global Reporting Initiative (G3, G3.1 and G4) independent level checks and “in accordance” checks

Under the GRI G3 framework, the status of Plus (“+”), signifying external assurance, can be added to a GRI Application Level when a reporting organisation has submitted all or part of its report for external assurance. Under G4, the guidelines mandate that there should be transparent disclosure on exactly which GRI G4 indicators have been assured – allowing stakeholders to determine the extent of assurance.

On an annual basis Net Balance undertakes more than 40 GRI Application Level Assessments (G3) and In-accordance checks (G4), including a number that are reviewed by GRI. Net Balance is also an accredited provider of GRI training and a number of our staff are involved in GRI’s technical and governance bodies. Our hands-on involvement with the GRI means that Net Balance team members are experienced in GRI’s interpretation and application. Four Net Balance specialists were involved in authoring G4, adding value to you through our specialist knowledge.

Reconciliation Action Plans: assurance of performance indicators in “Elevate” level plans

Several hundred organisations, including private, public and not-for-profit, now have Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) in place, designed to stimulate and guide their own efforts to close the gap for indigenous communities. For organisations and people who have little day-to-day interaction with indigenous communities, RAPs are often the only opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to reconciliation.

Net Balance can assist your organisation to achieve a Stretch RAP or an Elevate RAP by:

  • Evaluating programs or initiatives delivered under your RAP
  • Developing outcome based targets and measurement frameworks, to ensure that your RAP is focused on achieving real and lasting change for indigenous communities, and to enable your organisation to measure the value created by the RAP on an ongoing basis
  • Providing assurance for your RAP. As a first step, we recommend an assurance ‘readiness’ assessment to ensure your metrics can be assured under the ASAE 3000 standard and to determine the quality of reported data and whether a public assurance opinion could be given. Following this we will work with you to achieve external assurance or remediate any issues identified as part of the readiness work.

Learn more about Reconciliation Action Plans.

Greenhouse, energy and environmental reporting

Our team is experience in providing assurance over the following mandatory and voluntary disclosures:

  • NGER: National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting
  • JCP: Jobs and Competitiveness Program
  • CFI: Carbon Farming Initiative
  • NCOS: National Carbon Offset Standard
  • ESS: Energy Savings Scheme
  • GreenPower and related ESS and VEET programs
  • CDP: Carbon, Water, Supply Chain and Forrest submissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project
  • CRI: Corporate Responsibility Index
  • DJSI: Dow Jones Sustainability Index
  • UNGC, UNPRI, UNPSI, UNEPFI submissions
  • GRESB: Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark.