AA1000 takes on a new, more detailed, lookNovember 2008
A new version of the AA1000 Assurance Standard was unveiled last month.
The standard, used by assurers as a guide to verifying sustainability reports and by companies to guide their corporate responsibility management and reporting programmes, has now been split into three parts – standards for assurers to apply when dealing with sustainability reports; principles to guide companies on reporting and management; and a guidance document answering common queries about the standard.
The UK-based think-tank AccountAbility, which introduced the AA1000 standard in March 2003, says the division into three sections is a response to comments by users that they were confused over which parts are aimed at companies and which at assurers.
Other main changes to the standard include:
dropping of a requirement on assurers to judge the overall ‘completeness’ of a report
more detail and clarity on how assurers should actually go about assuring reports
acknowledgment of the value of more limited assurance focusing on verifying specific data such as health and safety statistics – largely ignored in the previous version
introduction of the idea of two levels of assurance: ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ depending on the amount of evidence gathered.
The standard has been revised using an ‘open source’ process, whereby interested parties posted their suggested changes to online working documents. About 4500 people from 90 countries participated.
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