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Finance Professionals role in promoting SDGs and ESG principles to take centre stage at the largest joint accounting assembly


Finance Professionals role in promoting SDGs and ESG principles to take centre stage at the largest joint accounting assembly of CA Sri Lanka and CAPA


One of the largest regional accounting assemblies to be held in Sri Lanka next month will take on a unique perspective whilst moving away from conventional topics, to recognize the significant role finance professionals including Chartered Accountants can play in championing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and considering Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles in making investment decisions.

The 42nd National Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) and the 20th Conference of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA), a top regional accounting body, will raise the curtains on 06th October 2021 to unveil one of the biggest ever hybrid conferences ever to be hosted in Colombo, with the thought-provoking theme “Heritage: Many Businesses, One Planet.”

The hybrid conference is expected to attract over 2500+ global and local delegates who will connect with the event virtually, while over 40 speakers and session chairmen will steer the technical sessions  to generate global thought leadership ideas for businesses during the conference.

The joint conference aims to explore the role and contribution accountants can make to mitigate and adapt to imminent risks and threats including climate change. During eight specialised technical sessions, speakers and panelists will deliberate contemporary and emerging issues impacting the accounting profession, alongside a rapidly changing social, economic, and technological landscape.

The technical deliberations will commence with a session on Stakeholder Capitalism. Carmine Di Sibio ( Global Chairman and CEO, EY), will be the session keynote speaker and Ranel T. Wijesinha,( Immediate Past Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka, Past President CAPA and Past President CA Sri Lanka) will serve as session chairman along with an expert panel comprising of Steven C. Kang (Korea ESG Platform Leader and Deputy Assurance Leader of Samil PwC Korea ), Keiko Kishigami ( Former Executive Board Member of JICPA and Board Member of WWF Japan,) and Dr John Purcell (Senior Manager ESG, Policy & Advocacy, CPA Australia) who will explore the latest thinking and best practices adopted by companies that  strive  to serve the interests of all their stakeholders.

As professionals sitting close to the nerve centre of an organisation, accountants can play an extraordinary role in promoting greener investments which will ensure a greener economy, and a greener planet. The session on Eco-investments and Sustainable Finance will help participants gauge the benefits of eco-investments and sustainable finance, opportunities for public-private partnerships and the responsibility of finance professionals in promulgating eco investments and sustainable finance. Participants can look forward to expert insights and deliberations from  the session keynote speaker Henning Dräger,(Global Sustainability Lead, BDO International Limited) panel speakers Julia Tay,(Partner, Asia-Pacific Public Policy Leader, EY) and Dr Nandita Mishra,( Universitetslektor, Department of Management and Engineering (IEI), Linköping University, Sweden, and Ambassador - IIRC London, Country Director – HETL), Lopa Rahman (Corporate Governance Officer, International Finance Corporation (IFC)  lead by the session chairman Asite Talwatte (Chairman of Management Systems (Pvt) Ltd, Past President of CA Sri Lanka, Former Managing Partner, EY Sri Lanka.)

There will also be a deliberation on Trust, IESBA Code with Technical Developments which will aim to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the accounting profession and how the profession can build relevant, ethical, and trusted finance professionals. The session keynote will be delivered by Dr Stavros Thomadakis, (Chairman, International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA),) with the session chairman Reyaz Mihular(Managing Partner, KPMG Sri Lanka and Past President of CA Sri Lanka)  leading a lively discussion joined by panel speakers Yohan Perera (Chief Operating Officer, KPMG Sri Lanka, and Past President of CA Sri Lanka) Sujeewa Rajapakse (Chairman of People's Bank, Managing Partner of BDO Partners Sri Lanka and Past President of CA Sri Lanka) and Veronica Poole,(Global IFRS and Corporate Reporting Leader Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited) to share insights on practical challenges and opportunities for the profession.

Raising Capital During Challenging Times, an area of focus during the pandemic,  Mahek  Vikamsey (Partner, Deal Advisory) and panel, Murtaza Jafferjee, (Chief Executive Officer, JB Securities and Chairman, Advocata Institute), Nandika Buddhipala (Chief Financial Officer, Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, President of National Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of  Member Network Panel ACCA SL) guided by the session chairman Sanjaya Bandara (Vice President of CA Sri Lanka and Board Member of CAPA) to deliberate on the bold steps  which must be taken by companies to raise capital during these challenging times.

The Right Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help business leaders to harness AI for sustainable development as well as generate new service opportunities for finance professionals. Dr Kasun Amarasinghe ( Postdoctoral Research Associate, Carnegie Mellon University) will deliver the session keynote. The session chairman  Arjuna Herath, (Senior Partner at EY and Head of Consulting for Sri Lanka and Maldives and Past President of CA Sri Lanka ) will steer a panel discussion joined by Prof. Marija Slavkovik (Chair of the Department for Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway,) Tim Timchur (Managing Director, 365 Architechs) and V. S. Parthasarathy, (Coach, Mentor & Entrepreneur, Ex-Group CFO of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.) to discuss ethical boundaries and the unexplored potential of the right AI.

The wellbeing of our workforce will be the area of focus in the session The Hidden Pandemic (Wellbeing). Prof. Andrew Noblet (Chair in Organisational Behaviour Deakin Business School, Deakin University), the session keynote speaker will focus on the importance of employees’ mental wellbeing, which has become a highly discussed topic since the pandemic. The session chairman, Prof. Andrew Conway (Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Public Accountants Group) along with the panel speakers Dr Asoka Jinadasa (Founder of Intrinsic Leadership Academy who is also an Award-Winning Author and Speaker) as well as Dennis Chow, Chairman, Deloitte China and Hajar Alafifi, Chairperson & Managing Director, Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd will help delegates understand what contributes to work-related stress, the repercussions thereof as well as how organisations and the management can create a more supportive and compassionate corporate culture where employees can thrive and deliver better results.

The Red Flag (Fraud) will pay attention to the heightened risk of fraud in the global economy and the increasing reliance placed more than ever on finance professionals to identify and mitigate the risk of fraud. During the session, experts will help participants understand how to upskill themselves, use technology, and build controlled environments to mitigate the risk of fraud. The session keynote will be delivered by Jason Zirkle (Training Director, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners - ACFE) followed by a discussion chaired by session chairman Sujeewa Mudalige (Managing Partner of PWC Sri Lanka, Past President of CA Sri Lanka and Past President of CAPA), and an expert panel

Comprising of Ransith Fernando (Managing Director & Co-Founder, Forestpin (Pvt) Ltd, Sri Lanka) and Keith Williamson (Managing Director and Asia Head of Disputes and Investigations at Alvarez & Marsal, HK & China) and Koichiro Kuramochi (Partner, KPMG AZSA LLC and Chairman, IAASB Working Group of JICPA) who will bring to life the many elements that will help companies to mitigate this ever increasing risk.

The conference will conclude with the Chronicles of Entrepreneurship which will focus on showcasing four inspiring entrepreneurs and their journey to cross the SME boundary and how the SME sector can continue to be an integral pillar of Sri Lanka’s growth. The session keynote will be delivered by Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala, (President of CMA Sri Lanka and Past President of CA Sri Lanka) whilst Ranjan Hanchapola, Founder & Chief Executive Officer at CAP Organic (Pvt) Ltd, Shalin Balasuriya, Co-Founder, Spa Ceylon Ayurveda Wellness, Sashika De Silva, Founder & Managing Director, Cinnatopia (Pvt) Ltd, and Basik Foods INC  and Prasanna Hettiarachchi (Founder & Managing Director, Saaraketha Holdings (Pvt) Ltd) will join the session to share their success stories with the session chairman Lasantha Wickremasinghe (Partner, B R De Silva & Company Chartered Accountants and Past President of CA Sri Lanka) helping them to highlight areas which could assist other aspiring companies also to reach the pinnacle of success.

The CAPA Conference has been held 19 times, in 12 countries, and is a key event in the CAPA calendar. The first CAPA Conference was held in 1957 in Manila, Philippines. CAPA is a regional organisation representing 32 professional accountancy organisations (PAOs) from 23 jurisdictions, and these PAOs have a collective membership of over 2 million qualified accountants.

A landmark concept founded by CA Sri Lanka in 1979, the National Conference of Chartered Accountants is Sri Lanka's biggest business summit annually attracting over 2000 delegates. The conference is also one of the most sought-after corporate events in the country as it has become an ideal platform to generate thought leadership and out of the box thinking for business leaders as it focuses on pertinent areas relevant to businesses and Chartered Accountants, which in turn help them acquire new knowledge ideas from across the globe.