CDSB's new Technical Director Ravi Abeywardana

Ravi Abeywardana is joining CDSB at a turning point in sustainability reporting.

Ravi Abeywardana is a Chartered Accountant with ICAEW, geographer and Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting expert. He has previously held management positions within Finance and Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability departments for a leading listed food and agri-business supplying food, ingredients, feed and fibre worldwide (>$20 billion turnover). Prior to that he trained as an accountant at Ecovis Wingrave Yeats, a leading firm of Chartered Accountants, Business Advisors, and Data Analysts based in Soho, the heart of London.

Ravi developed and implemented Olam’s Integrated Impact Statement, a pioneering financial statement and internationally recognised by organisations such as the Capitals Coalition.

As Technical Director Ravi oversees CDSB’s technical thought leadership on ESG-related financial reporting.

Ravi Abeywardana:

The financial sector has a crucial role to play in delivering capital flows that support an environmentally sustainable economy. However, without reliable and consistent information regarding natural capital risks and opportunities, assets cannot be properly assessed and valued, and risk cannot be priced accordingly. Standardised nature-related financial disclosure would facilitate this and ensure that organisations have greater oversight of their impacts and dependencies on the environment, unlocking competitive advantages and long-term sustainable value across business and wider stakeholders.

CDSB’s mission is to support prepares and markets transition to address this, and I’m drawn to that mission and the journey, which will lead to a more sustainable world!

I had a fantastic opportunity at Olam, a global agri-commodity company which was purpose-driven with an impressive mission. I pioneered the Integrated Impact Statement, an internal reporting and decision-making tool to enhance decision-making. Other companies, are doing similar things, going to great efforts to address common issues and paint a picture of their actions.

But annual reports are meant to be balanced, and as they are now, they are not. There is no accurate and measurable means of understanding sustainability performance, and how one company’s performance compares to another peer. Companies go to great efforts preparing financial statements and the associated narrative on sustainability matters, but the messaging is mixed and incoherent. There’s no consistent rule book on how they should report and disclose, just as accountants have on financial information. That needs to change.

One rule book is needed, which dictates what companies need to report.. Such a rule book would focus minds, inform users and hold multiple stakeholders accountable.  I see a path for standard-setters to address this gap. Companies shouldn’t be competing on approaches and concepts, but on how they are addressing and tackling the SDGs. For this to happen, global harmonisation of standards is required.

The time is now for standards to converge, and CDSB is at the centre of this. My desire is to make the corporate reporting focused and less confusing for practitioners so that action can be taken, now.


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