promoting accountability innovations for sustainable development – (in espanol, and in chinese)

AccountAbility works to promote accountability innovations for sustainable development.
We are a global, not-for-profit self-managed partnership founded in 1995, with bases in Beijing, Geneva, London, Sao Paulo and Washington D.C. and Country Representatives in Brazil, Canada, China, Jordan, Spain, Sweden and the US. We are a unique global network of leading business, public and civil institutions working to build and demonstrate the possibilities for tomorrow’s global markets and governance through thought-leadership and advisory services. By working together we aim to scale up impacts through:

  • Enabling open, fair and effective approaches to stakeholder engagement;
  • Developing and rewarding strategies for responsible competitiveness in companies, sectors, countries and regions;
  • Creating and developing effective collaborative governance strategies for partnerships and multilateral organisations that are delivering innovation and value, and
  • Setting and influencing sustainability standards.

Our vision is of a world of civil power … (full text about /who we are).

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Membership; People; Leadership; Standards; Professional Development; Newsletter;

About /History /The Beginning: AccountAbility was launched in 1995 as the Institute for Social and Ethical AccountAbility. It’s purpose then, as it is now, was to promote accountability innovations for sustainable development.

It brought together businesses, academics and practitioners who were developing ways to measure and report on the social and ethical performance of organisations. From the start, they were commited to working collaboratively and to being governed by an international membership of businesses, service providers, civil society organisations, accountancy bodies and research institutes.

The diverse founding members, including The Body Shop, The European Institute for Business Ethics, KPMG, Oxfam, and Shell, were united in one thing – the need to rebuild trust between corporations and their stakeholders. They had all seen, and played some role, in the explosion of interest in measuring and reporting on corporate performance. But they feared that the burgeoning new field of ’social auditing’ would explode through sheer confusion or implode under the pressure of new approaches of varying quality.

The first focus for AccountAbility was on professionalising the practice of social auditing and reporting, to address this trust deficit.


In 1999 AccountAbility launched the AA1000 Framework. Its aim was to support organisational learning, performance and progress towards sustainable development by improving the quality of social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting. It was seen as a foundation standard which could underpin the development of more specialist standards and accelerate convergence of standards for accountability. Since 1999 we have built on this foundation:

  • In 2003 we launched the AA1000 Assurance Standard to provide a systematic and consistent framework for assurance of performance.
  • In 2004, together with CSR network we launched The Accountability Rating, which uses the AA1000 standard as a basis for a public rating of the accountability of the worlds 50 largest companies.
  • In 2005 we launched the AA1000 Standard for Stakeholder Engagement, to secure the quality of organisations’ engagement with their stakeholder engagement which is crucial to learning, governance and accountability.
  • In 2005 we launched the new Certified Sustainability Assurance Practitioners Program, to provide professional certification for assurance practitioners in partnership with IRCA.
  • In 2008 the revised AA1000 Assurance Standard and the AA1000 AccountAbility Principles Standard were launched, providing greater clarity for reporting organisations and assurance providers, enhancing the value of assurance to companies and their stakeholders and improving the consistency of practice to ultimately help companies be more accountable and deliver more sustainable development.

The AA1000 Series has become the gold standard for sustainability, or non-financial auditing and assurance, and a leading standard for stakeholder engagement. Hundreds of organisations now use the Series to guide their practices. Policy makers and markets have also begun to reference AA1000 and AccountAbility has contributed to the ongoing development of the global standards architecture, through collaboration with the Global Reporting Initiative, Transparency International and the ISO Social Responsibility Working Group.

… and beyond: … (full text).

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