What Happens in Practice?

The various parts of an internal audit assurance statement are similar to those of an external auditor’s assurance statement (covered later). However assurance statements for sustainability reports are fairly new and therefore not as standardized as they are for financial audits. Unlike financial audits that have been around for centuries, auditors have been providing assurance statements for sustainability reports for only a few years. Because of uncertainties associated with environmental and social information, auditors had to learn how to assure this information. Initially, there were no guidelines available, and auditors had to develop them. Both companies and stakeholders wanted some assurance that companies’ sustainability information was reasonably accurate. Because assurance statements are new and still changing, not all the statements will have exactly the same information. We will review a number of different assurance statements from both internal audits and external assurance providers. You will then have a better understanding of how to assess the credibility of the information in a sustainability report based on the information provided in the assurance statement.

Below is an example of an internal audit provided by Enbridge’s internal audit team. Key characteristics of the audit are identified. Enbridge is a major transporter of energy in North America.