Future-proofing businesses against climate risks

Published: 28 October 2013 at 14:08

Anglia Ruskin project helps accountants advise clients how to weather the storm

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Accounting for Business Resilience, a collaboration between Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute, the Environment Agency and Groundwork Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk Ltd, has been established to help small businesses in the region weather environmental risks.

Business resilience is about being able to continue operating in the face of disruption.  Of the big multinationals on the Standard and Poor’s Global 100 Index, 90% identify extreme weather and climate change as risks.  Their major concerns include damage to facilities, loss of water or power supplies, higher costs, and disruption of supply and distribution chains.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are just as vulnerable to unforeseen risks as big businesses and, as they account for 99% of companies in the UK, their resilience is crucial to a strong UK economy. 

However, it appears SMEs are not addressing these challenges.  Based on a 2006 survey, 90% of SMEs are under-insured against flooding and 70% of those in high-risk areas admitted they were “not concerned” by potential problems.

The Accounting for Business Resilience project is providing free support to accountancy firms across the East of England to help them understand the risks to their own business through one-to-one onsite reviews. 

These accountants are then supported to help them develop their own risk and resilience advice service for their clients.  As trusted advice-givers, accountants are in an excellent position to warn clients of the financial risks they could be exposed to due to a changing environment. 

Dr Aled Jones, Director of Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute, said:

“Business interruptions linked to climate change and resource availability, such as extreme weather, flooding and volatile commodity prices, are a real and present threat to UK business.  
“Business continuity is about putting processes in place to ensure that when things go wrong, which they almost inevitably will at some stage, it doesn’t spell the end for a business.”

Alwyns Chartered Accountants, based in Loughton, Essex, recently undertook a resilience review.  Partner Trevor Applin said:

“The review was of great value to our business in helping us assess new client advisory opportunities.  It is not an area we would have normally considered.”

Any accountancy firms interested in taking part should contact Andrew Jackson at Groundwork on 01394 444 585 or email andrew.jackson@groundwork.org.uk