aa1000 ap accountability principles 2018

Sustainability: Important Update of AA1000 Accountability Principles Standard now available

Dr. Thijs Willaert CSR & Responsible Sourcing, News

On May 10, AccountAbility published a new version of its AA1000 AcountAbility Principles Standard (AA1000AP: 2018). The standard is not only a commonly referenced framework for sustainability management, but also serves as the basis for external assurance on sustainability reports. The revision of the standard, to which DQS contributed as a member of the working group, has led to some important changes.

The purpose of the AA1000AP standard is to provide organisations with a practical set of guiding principles with which they can assess, manage, improve and communicate their sustainability performance. The standard is often used in combination with the AA1000 Assurance Standard (AA1000 AS), which forms the basis for third-party assurance on sustainability reports.

The Principles

Organizations that submit their sustainability report to external assurance in accordance with AA1000 should be aware of the changes in the AA1000 Principles, as those principles are the basis for the assurance process. The previous version of the standard comprises three guiding principles:

  • Inclusivity – People should have a say in the decisions that impact them.
  • Materiality – Decision makers should identify and be clear about the sustainability topics that matter.
  • Responsiveness – Organisations should act transparently on material sustainability topics and their related impacts.

To this, a fourth principle has been added:

  • Impact – Organisations should monitor, measure and be accountable for how their actions affect their broader ecosystems.

accountability aa1000 principles diagram

Dr. Sied Sadek, CEO of DQS CFS GmbH and a member of the AA1000 working group, explains the addition of the fourth principle as follows: “In the past couple of years, sustainability management is maturing into a results-based approach. The focus is not on good intentions, but in identifying and measuring impacts in a manner that enables all stakeholders to take appropriate action.”

The standard, including a full description of the principles, can be downloaded from the AccountAbility website free of charge.

Alignment with GRI Standards

For organizations that prepare their sustainability report in accordance with the GRI Standards, the addition of the fourth principle does not change much in terms of reporting requirements: the GRI Standards already require organizations to report their significant economic, environmental and social impacts for each material topic.

Transition Timeline

The AA1000AP (2018) replaces the previous AccountAbility Principles Standard (AA1000APS, 2008). For reports published from January 1st 2019 onwards, organisations seeking assurance through the AA1000 Assurance Standard (AA1000AS) should use the 2018 version. For reports published before this date, however, organisations can continue to use the AA1000APS (2008) if they prefer.

What DQS can do for you
As an AA1000-licensed assurance provider, DQS provides external assurance on sustainability reports (GRI, Global Compact, ISO 26000, …), regardless of industry sector. External assurance increases the transparency and credibility of sustainability reports and gives stakeholders the confidence that reports provide an accurate and complete picture of your sustainability performance. Upon request, we also provide inhouse workshops on the implementation of the AA1000 principles.

Contact us if you have any questions about the revision, subscribe to our Newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn to receive regular updates on certification and standards.


Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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