Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 87, Supplement 1, pp 289–298 | Cite as

Assurance Services for Sustainability Reports: Standards and Empirical Evidence

  • Giacomo Manetti
  • Lucia Becatti


This article contributes to the growing scholarship on the topic of assurance services for sustainability reports. We first synthetically illustrate the main international standards for the implementation of assurance services regarding the subject documents. The second part of our article is an empirical analysis of reports drawn up on the basis of the current Global Reporting Initiative 2006 guidelines, and looks at how effectively these standards have been implemented, analyzing the different typologies of assurance statement.


assurance services corporate social responsibility credibility gap global reporting initiative guidelines level of assurance materiality standards sustainability reporting 


AA1000 AS

Accountability 1000 Assurance Standard


Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens


Global Reporting Initiative


Sustainability Reporting Guidelines Version 3.0


International Auditing and Assurance Standard Board


International Federation of Accountants


International Standard on Auditing

ISAE 3000

International Standard on Assurance Engagement 3000


The Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams C. A.: 2004, The Ethical, Social and Environmental Reporting Performance Portrayal Gap. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 17(5), 731–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ball A.-D. L. Owen and R. H. Gray: 2000, ‹External Transparency or Internal Capture? The Role of Third Party Statements in Adding Value to Corporate Environmental Reports’, Business strategy and the Environment 9(1), 1–23Google Scholar
  3. Compagnie Nationale des Commissaires aux Comptes (CNCC): 2004, Informal Guidance on Pratique professionnelle relative au rapport du Commissaire aux Comptes sur certaines données ou informations environnementales et sociales ou sur les procédures d’établissement de ces données ou informations, contenus dans le rapport rendant compte en matière de développement durableGoogle Scholar
  4. Consiglio Nazionale dei Dottori Commercialisti (CNDC): 2006, Linee guida per l’asseverazione dei report di sostenibilitàGoogle Scholar
  5. Dando N., Swift T.: 2003, Transparency and Assurance. Minding the credibility gap. Journal of Business Ethics 44(2), 195–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Deegan C., Cooper B. J., Shelly M.: 2006, An Investigation of TBL Report Assurance Statements: UK and European Evidence. Managerial Auditing Journal 21(4), 329–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. FAR SRS (The Swedish association of auditors): 2004, Proposed Recommendation on Independent Review of Voluntary Separate Sustainability ReportGoogle Scholar
  8. Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens (FEE): 2006, Key Issues in Sustainability Assurance. An OverviewGoogle Scholar
  9. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): 2006, Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. Version 3.0Google Scholar
  10. Gray R.: 2000, Current Developments and Trends in Social and Environmental Auditing, Reporting and Attestation: A Review and Comment. International Journal of Auditing 4(4), 247–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gray R. 2001, Thirty Years of Social Accounting, Reporting and Auditing: What (If Anything) Have We Learnt?. Business Ethics: A European Review 10(1), 9–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gray R., Bebbington J., Collison D.: 2006, NGOs, Civil Society and Accountability: Making the People Accountable to Capital. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 19(3), 319–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gray R., Dey C., Owen D., Evans R., Zadek S.: 1997, Struggling with the Praxis of Social Accounting Stakeholders, Accountability, Audits and Procedures. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 10(3), 325–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hasan M., Maijoor S., Mock T. J., Roebuck P., Simnett R., Vanstraelen A.: 2005, The Different Types of Assurance Services and Levels of Assurance Provided. International Journal of Auditing 9(2), 91–102Google Scholar
  15. Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer in Deutschland (IDW): 2005, Germany Generally Accepted Assurance Principles for Audit or Review of Sustainability Reports (ED As)Google Scholar
  16. Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability (ISEA): 1999, ‹AA1000 Framework’, Institute of Social and Ethical Engagement, UKGoogle Scholar
  17. Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability (ISEA): 2003, ‹AA1000 Assurance Standard’, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. International Auditing and Assurance Standard Board (IAASB): 2004, ‹International Standard on Assurance Engagement 3000. Assurance Engagement Other than Audits or Reviews of Historical Information’, International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  19. International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB): 2006, Assurance Aspects of G3 – The Global Reporting Initiative’s 2006 Draft Sustainability Reporting GuidelinesGoogle Scholar
  20. International Federation of Accountants (IFAC): 2002, ‹The Determination and Communication of Levels of Assurance Other than High’, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut van Registeraccountants (NIVRA): 2005, The Netherlands: Practitioners Working with Subject Matter Experts from other Disciplines on Non-Financial Assurance Engagements (ED 3010) and Assurance Engagements Relating to Sustainability Reports (ED 3410)Google Scholar
  22. KPMG-Amsterdam Graduate Business School: 2005, KPMG International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting (University of Amsterdam Publisher)Google Scholar
  23. Milne M. J.,Adler R. W.: 1999, Exploring the Reliability of Social and Environmental Disclosures Content Analysis. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 12(2), 237–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Natale S. M., Ford J. W.: 1994, Social Audit and Ethics. Managerial Auditing Journal 9(1), 29–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. O’Dwyer B., Unerman J., Bradley J.: 2005, Perceptions on the Emergence and Future Development of Corporate Social Disclosure in Ireland. Engaging the Voices of Non-Governmental Organizations. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 18(1), 14–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Owen, D. and B. O’Dwyer: 2004, ‹Assurance Statement Quality in Environmental, Social and Sustainability Reporting: A Critical Evaluation of Leading Edge Practice’, Research Paper Series International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, University of NottinghamGoogle Scholar
  27. Owen D., O’Dwyer B.: 2005, Assurance Statement Practice in Environmental, Social and Sustainability Reporting: A Critical Evaluation. The British Accounting Review 37, 205–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Standards Australia, Standard AS/NZS 5911 (Int): 2005, General Guidelines on the Verification, Validation and Assurance of Environmental and Sustainability ReportsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business Administration University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Business AdministrationUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

Personalised recommendations