Network founded by Prince of Wales bids to get employers to respond to social and environmental issues

The Prince of Wales is spearheading a new drive to get chief financial officers within Europe's top employers to take more account of social and environmental issues.

Having been founded by the heir to the throne, the new Chief Financial Officer Leadership Network is being set up by the Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S).

It aims to help companies find a way to respond to a raft of challenges ranging from climate change and the world's rising and ageing population through to accelerating urbanisation and increasing consumption.

But it will also strive to stress to investors and stakeholders that establishing sustainable business models has the potential to generate commercial gains.

Helping to launch the network, the Prince of Wales said future generations are relying on sustainability being successfully built into corporate decision-making.

He said: "The bottom line is that sustainable business equals good business.

"I am therefore delighted that the A4S Chief Financial Officer Leadership Network will play a key role not only in communicating why sustainability makes business sense, but how to start accounting for it. Our children and grandchildren are depending on it."

The aim of the network, which could be extended globally next year, is to look at how the money men behind Europe's biggest businesses can include social and environmental issues in their financial decisions.

The Prince's role in the initiative has been lauded by the network's co-chairman, John Rogers.

He said the Prince of Wales deserves credit for recognising the "vital importance" of building sustainability issues into corporate decision making.

Mr Rogers said the approach needs to become "natural" for firms' financial teams, adding that he wants chief financial officers at private and public organisations to contribute their skills and experience to the network.

Firms already signed up to the network include Sainsbury's, Yorkshire Water, Marks & Spencer, Bupa, the National Grid, Burberry Group, Unilever, Walmart EMEA, the Crown Estate and South West Water.

Also on board are Anglian Water, SSE, Danone, Royal DSM, British Land and United Utilities.

Copyright Press Association 2013