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The University of Southampton

How Accountancy can change the world for the better: Sustainability Reporting in Uganda

Published: 6 December 2019
Professor Ven Tauringana on UBC
Professor Ven Tauringana is training manufacturers in Uganda to create sustainability reports.

The expertise of an Accounting Professor at the University of Southampton Business School is proving how accountancy can change the world for the better through the introduction of sustainability reporting.

Professor Venancio Tauringana has recently made visits to Uganda where he has trained representatives from 60 companies associated with the Uganda Manufacturers Association and two academics from the country’s prestigious Makarere University to create their own sustainability reports.

Professor Tauringana’s training emphasises the importance of highlighting the environmental, economic and social impact of each business and to focus on areas for improvement which are both beneficial to the companies and their competitiveness, but also to the people and local areas where businesses are based. 

Sustainability reporting is rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically target 12.6 under goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production – which openly encourages companies, especially large and transnational concerns, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.

“Business can no longer afford to ignore sustainability as a best practice strategy because the marketplace changes and sustainability becomes increasingly important in the daily operations of every business,” said Professor Tauringana. “When you identify your economic, environmental and social impact, you can know where you are and how to move forward.

“If you find that you are spending too much energy, you take corrective action to reduce, and when you reduce, you make the company more profitable,” he continued. “It also helps a business avoid penalties for beach of environmental law, thereby reducing costs.”

Professor Tauringana originally started his work solely looking at Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) but as his research progressed, he realised there were opportunities for a much broader view on sustainability, including areas like ‘corporate social responsibility’ and the impact on communities and areas the companies are operating in.  This is when he decided to focus on sustainability reporting which captures a number of different areas including GHG, but also wider social, economic and environmental impacts.  

Professor Tauringana successfully completed the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards exam in Sustainability Reporting earlier this year and is only the third in the country to gain this qualification, which was first launched in mid-2018.  He is aiming to train up to 100 companies in Uganda and the Uganda Manufacturers Association has agreed to institute a quality kite mark for all companies who sign up to incentivise this new practice. 

Over time, Professor Tauringana aims to transfer this knowledge to local academics and business leaders, so the application of sustainability reporting can be spread much further.

“The act of measuring and realising the impact on the environment that companies are having is clearly the start of a journey,” he explained. “With this particular programme, we hope that the learning is spread initially across Ugandan manufacturing companies, and then the potential to realise benefits can be expanded upon, both in Uganda and across Africa.

“Sustainability is a core theme for Southampton Business School and a ‘golden thread’ in a significant body of research at the University of Southampton across many disciplines,” Professor Tauringana continued. “This initiative shows how accountancy practice can shape sustainable development and has the potential to help many businesses across the world to drive changes that will benefit the environment and the communities they are rooted in.”

Speaking to Uganda’s NBS Television following a recent training session with Professor Tauringana, Kamira Roberty, the Human Resources Manager from Riley Packaging Limited, said, “The reality is that if we take up sustainability reporting, it will help the future generations to exactly benefit what we are doing now. We shall take care of the environment, which will not be damaged, and the people in the communities in which we live will also be helped, to improve their lifestyle, in terms of health and education.”

Below - see Professor Tauringana’s full interview on the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) programme Business Today.


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