An assurance on sustainability report (SR) or integrated report (IR) is an assessment mechanism on the report content by an independent external party in order to come up with conclusions and recommendations for improving the reliability and validity of the report. An assurance on SR / IR is not similar to audit work. While an audit is intended to generate an audit opinion, the final output of an assurance service is an "Independent Assurance Statement" that can be placed inside an SR / IR. An assurance on SR / IR can be voluntary or mandatory, it depends on the regulation of the respective country.
Organizations, especially the companies look for an assurance service because it can increase stakeholders’ trust in their reports. Through assurance, the companies are also able to identify the areas of improvements for both sustainability practices and future reporting development.
In details, the benefits of assurance service for the clients are as follows:
An assurance team consists of sustainability experts as the assurors, and assurance most likely includes discussion sessions; where it creates the opportunity for clients to get advice for improvements in reporting from experts.
The output of an assurance service is an Independent Assurance Statement that can be placed in an SR or IR. It gains more trust from stakeholders and increases clients' confidence in publishing the reports.
An assurance service can be served as a mechanism for learning and continuous improvement on sustainability strategy and practices because it does not just review the adherence of report content against principles, standards, and indicators, but also analyze the sustainability context of the clients.
Assurance is also a verification process of a report against the pertinent regulations on sustainability or integrated reporting; therefore, it enables clients to reduce compliance risks.
SR Asia performs an assurance service by referring to certain principles, standards, and regulations that apply to clients' business environment and their sustainability context. Our assurance tool, the SR Asia Great, is designed to be adaptable and meet the companies' needs and expectations. It can accommodate any principles, standards, and regulations into the assurance indicators that are used by the assurors to perform the assurance work.
A number of references for assurance that have been adopted into SR Asia GREAT are as follows:
AA1000 AccountAbility Principle (2018)
GRI Standards 2016 and after
SASB Standards (some industry sectors)
International Integrated Reporting Framework
Regulation of Indonesia Financial Services Authority No.51/POJK.03/2017 (Indonesian companies only)
Contact SR Asia here to get more information about the references that have been adopted into SR Asia Great assurance indicators.
An assurance service usually covers the following activities:
Please be noted that the scope of activity may be adjusted to meet the needs, characteristics, and sustainability context of the clients.
An assurance project preparation starts with an initial engagement between the client (which is the management of the company) and SR Asia, or an assuror certified by SR Asia. A meeting shall be conducted to discuss the assurance plan, including assurance type, level, references, and schedule as well as the communication protocol between the client and the Assurance Team.
The assuror submits a project application form through the SR Asia Great platform. Information is needed by the assuror to fill-up the form, such as a short profile of the company, reporting profile, data contributors, and material topics presented in the report.
Once SR Asia Great Administrator has approved the assurance project application form, the Assurance Team can start to conduct an initial assessment on the report draft submitted by the client.
A visit to the client's head office is carried out (1) to discuss with the management representative and data contributors about the report draft and findings from initial assessment, as well as (2) to trace back sustainability performance data and information as presented in the report to the sources and evidence documents.
In particular conditions, such as during the pandemic, video conferencing can be conducted instead of a visit.
When applicable, the Assurance Team directly observe particular operations or activities as evidence samples.
After the visit, the Assurance Team allows the client to revise the report draft, most likely maximum in two weeks.
The Assurance Team will generate recommendations for future improvements and come up with an Independent Assurance Statement after the client has submitted the revised report draft.
SR Asia's assurance procedures guide the Assurance Team to analyze the following areas:
Sustainability context of the industry and that of the client, as indicated in the report content.
Material topics presented in the report content and materiality identification process taken by the client during its reporting development.
Presentation of key stakeholder groups in the report and the client's engagement practices to maintain relations with stakeholders.
Disclosures of sustainability performance data and information specified in the report against principles, standards, and regulations to which the report content referring to.
Approaches, processes, methodologies, stakeholder engagement, and data management of the client in developing the report content.
Other areas that are relevant to sustainability, such as presentation of the client's sustainability performance data and information against Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) targets and indicators.
Types & Levels
As an AA1000 Licensed Assurance Provider, SR Asia offers the following types and levels of assurance services.
Type 1 Assurance Service – this type of assurance mechanism evaluates the nature and extent of the reporting company’s adherence to AA1000 AccountAbility Principles: inclusivity, materiality, responsiveness, and impact. Under Type 1, assurance on a sustainability report or integrated report is usually conducted with a moderate level of evidence. It means that verification and analysis are limited to the evidence documents given by the company.
Type 2 Assurance Service – this type of assurance mechanism includes Type 1 and also evaluates the reliability of specified sustainability performance information in a sustainability report. In the Type 2 assurance mechanism, it is recommended to apply a high level of evidence, that is where the Assurance Team obtains more evidence from different internal and external sources to meet a certain confidence level to conclude and come up with recommendations.
It takes no less than four weeks to complete an assurance work on an SR or IR, including:
One day kick-off meeting between the Assurance Team and the client
Three days for initial assessment, after submission of the report draft
Two to three full days of discussion with the management representative and data contributors
One to two days site visit to see the operations or community development programs of the client
Two weeks for revising and improving the report draft
One week to review the revised draft, generate recommendations and come up with an Independent Assurance Statement
The duration of an assurance project can be shorter or longer due to the actual situation and condition.
Potential clients are expected to acknowledge the whole phases of SR Asia assurance services as presented below:
SR Asia provides an online database consisting of the list of Level 1-Certified Writers and Level 2-Certified Assurors, to whom the clients can engage with for obtaining the services in sustainability or integrated reporting and assurance. SR Asia certified writers and assurors are the selected professionals who have demonstrated their qualifications and passed Level-1 (as an SR / IR writer) and Level-2 (as an SR /IR assuror) exams. The Level 2-Certified Assurors are eligible to utilize the SR Asia Great Assurance Tool and can carry out an assurance project under SR Asia.
Note: Level 1 Certification Program starts in September 2020, Level 2 Certification Program will begin in 2022
Click here to see SR Asia certified writers and assurors
Click the following links if you would like to get information about SR Asia in pdf format.