The first edition of the AA1000 Assurance Standard was published in 2003 as the world’s first sustainability assurance standard. It was developed to assure the credibility and quality of  sustainability performance and reporting, and was the result of an extensive, two-year, worldwide consultation involving hundreds of organisations from the professions, the investment community, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), labour and business.

The AA1000AS (2003) superseded the information on sustainability assurance provided in the AA1000 Framework Standard published in 1999. The 2003 edition was supported by a Guidance Note on the application of the principles; and a User Note including five case studies on the application of the principles during assurance engagements.

The 2008 edition of the AA1000 Assurance Standard, AA1000AS (2008), is the second edition of AccountAbility’s assurance standard. It draws on the growing body of practice and experience in sustainability assurance and supersedes all previous versions published by AccountAbility.

The AA1000 Assurance Standard (2008) supports the AA1000 APS (2008) principle of responsiveness, which requires public disclosure. Assurance provides an independent view on the credibility of public disclosure. The AA1000AS (2008) is compatible with the methodology of ISAE 3000, the financial accounting body standard for providing assurance on non-financial matters.

The AA1000 Assurance Standard is supported by:

  • A mandatory licensing process for Assurance Providers to maintain quality control

Advantages of Using the AA1000 AS (2008) In Assurance Provision:

The AA1000AS (2008) is unique as it requires the assurance provider to evaluate the extent of adherence to a set of principles rather than simply assessing the reliability of the data. The AA1000AS (2008) requires the assurance provider to look at underlying management approaches, systems and processes and how stakeholders have participated. Using the AA1000AS, the assurance provider evaluates the nature and extent to which an organisation adheres to the AccountAbility Principles in the AA1000 APS (2008).

The AA1000AS (2008) delivers a rigorous process that adds value to both the company and external stakeholders. The AA100AS (2008) is a principles-based standard that provides a rigorous framework for sustainability assurance while at the same time providing enough flexibility to adapt to the context of the individual organisation. It provides findings and conclusions on the current status of an organisation's sustainability performance and provides recommendations to encourage continuous improvement. It is not a certification standard which leads to a pass or fail, and so can be used by organisations at all stages of maturity.