Module 5: Assurances

“One unerring mark of the love of truth is not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant.”

– John Locke

What is an assurance?

For sustainability reporting, both assurance procedures and assurance statements are important.

  • An assurance procedure is a control that improves the manner in which information is collected and presented.
  • An assurance statement explains the scope, methods, and results of a review to determine the quality of information to be reported.

Both help readers make more informed and better decisions by reducing the risk that comes from inaccurate information. Assurances provide confidence that the information provided in a sustainability report fairly represents an organization’s performance. Not all assurances are of the same quality and therefore do not provide the same level of confidence.

This module covers the benefits and two major categories of assurances. There are many benefits of an assurance process both to the organization and the stakeholder. Two categories of assurance are internal (within the organization) and external (outside the organization). Each of these categories has several sub-parts.

Four general categories of assurances are covered in this module.

Internal assurances (controls and audits) are proactive and attempt to prevent inaccuracies before they occur. They also identify problems as quickly as possible during an activity, such as a data collection process, and before the final report is prepared. On the other hand, external assurances (independent reviews and commentaries or stakeholder panels) are reactive and identify errors, inaccuracies or inadequate performance after an activity has occurred, such as after a report is prepared but before it gets to the readers.