In a historical gathering, the first annual NYSSCPA–Hedge Fund Roundtable Sustainability Investment Leadership Conference on May 6, 2016, brought together some of the world’s foremost thought leaders on sustainability reporting and integrated reporting for a daylong discussion of the relevant issues and the role of the accounting profession in this transformative movement.

Decades ago, Robert Montgomery understood the power and responsibility that CPAs have and their ability to measure the unmeasurable. Furthermore, NYSSCPA Executive Director and CEO Joanne S. Barry noted, “CPAs have the power—with other professionals—to move sustainability to the forefront of American business.”

The United States has been a laggard in the nascent sustainability movement, but the aims of the conference’s organizers and participants is to position the profession as a leader in the field.

CPAs can take the lead because their unique position between corporate management and the public and their proven expertise in developing objective standards and attesting to their adherence makes them the natural professional to make sustainable reporting accepted, understandable, and reliable.

Featured panelist Jane Gleeson-White’s landmark book on the subject asked, “Can accountants save the planet?” Many of the conference’s participants would likely answer “maybe”—but only if the thoughts and ideas discussed this day take root and blossom into in a worldwide movement.