Independent assurance report
To the readers of the AkzoNobel Report 2014
Our conclusion and opinion
We have reviewed the information in the Sustainability statements (pages 193 to 245) and in the Compliance and integrity management chapter (pages 122 to 127) (hereafter The Sustainability Reporting), which are part of the 2014 Annual Report (The Report) of Akzo Nobel N.V. (further: the Company).
Furthermore we have audited Note 1: Managing our sustainability agenda (pages 195 to 198) of the Sustainability statements.
Based on our review, nothing has come to our attention to indicate that The Report is not fairly presented, in all material respects, in accordance with the reporting criteria.
Furthermore, in our opinion, the information in Note 1: Managing our sustainability agenda (pages 195 to 198) is presented, in all material respects, in accordance with the reporting criteria.
We report, to the extent we can assess, that the information concerning sustainability in the rest of The Report is consistent with The Sustainability Reporting.
Basis for our conclusion and opinion
We conducted our engagement in accordance with the Dutch Standard 3810N: “Assurance engagements relating to sustainability reports”, which is a specified standard under the International Standard on Assurance Engagement (ISAE) 3000: “Assurance Engagement other than Audits or Reviews of Historical Financial Information”.
Our responsibilities under Standard 3810N and procedures performed have been further specified in the paragraph titled “Our responsibility for the assurance of The Sustainability Reporting”.
We are independent of AkzoNobel in accordance with the “Verordening inzake de onafhankelijkheid van accountants bij assurance-opdrachten” (ViO) and other relevant independence requirements in The Netherlands. Furthermore we have complied with the “Verordening gedrags- en beroepsregels accountants” (VGBA).
We believe that the assurance evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our conclusion and opinion.
Key assurance matters
Key assurance matters are those matters that, in our professional judgment, were of most significance in our assurance of The Sustainability Reporting. We have communicated the key assurance matters to the Company. The key assurance matters are not a comprehensive reflection of all matters discussed.
These assurance matters were addressed in the context of our assurance of The Sustainability Reporting as a whole and in forming our conclusion thereon, and we do not provide a separate conclusion on these matters.
Judgment in determining material aspects
To ensure that the stakeholders of the Company can base their decisions on the information provided in The Sustainability Reporting its content should be a comprehensive reflection of the Company’s material aspects. Material aspects are defined as aspects of which an omission can have a substantial impact on the decisions of stakeholders.
This area was significant to our review in light of the Company’s move this year for the first time towards the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines G4 of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the inherent qualitative judgment in determining material aspects. The GRI G4 guidelines require to put emphasis on the materiality principle supported by a structured process in determining the content of the report. Our review procedures included, among others, a review of the process that the Company has implemented to identify the material aspects for The Sustainability Reporting and the ways in which stakeholders’ interests were taken into account as part of that. We further reviewed and discussed the Company’s determination of the material aspects. We conducted a media search to compare the results with the material aspects identified by the Company in order to identify any potentially missing material aspects for The Sustainability Reporting.
Responsibilities of Management for The Sustainability Reporting
The Board of Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of The Sustainability Reporting in scope as included above under “Our conclusion and opinion” in accordance with the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines G4 of the Global Reporting Initiative supported by internally developed guidelines as described in Note 2: Reporting principles (pages 198 to 201). It is important to view The Sustainability Reporting in The Report in the context of these criteria. We believe these criteria are suitable in view of the purpose of our assurance engagement.
As part of this, the Board of Management is responsible for such internal control as it determines is necessary to enable the preparation of The Sustainability Reporting that is free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.
Our responsibility for the assurance of The Sustainability Reporting
Our objective is to plan and perform the assurance assignment in a manner that allows us to obtain sufficient and appropriate assurance evidence for our conclusion regarding The Sustainability Reporting and our opinion regarding the information in Note 1: Managing our sustainability agenda.
Procedures performed for the review of The Sustainability Reporting are aimed at determining the plausibility of information and are less extensive than those for a reasonable level of assurance.
Our audit of the information in Note 1: Managing our sustainability agenda has been performed with a high, but not absolute, level of assurance, which means we may not have detected all errors and fraud.
Our review procedures on The Sustainability Reporting included among others:
- A risk analysis, including a media search, to identify relevant sustainability issues for the Company in the reporting period
- Reviewing the suitability of the internal reporting criteria including conversion factors used
- Evaluating the design and implementation of the systems and processes for the collection, processing and control of the information in scope for the review, including the consolidation of the data
- Interviewing management at corporate and business level responsible for the sustainability and compliance and integrity policies, implementation, management, internal controls, monitoring and reporting
- Interviews with relevant staff at corporate and business level responsible for providing the information and consolidating the data for The Sustainability Reporting
- Evaluating internal and external documentation, based on sampling, to determine whether the information in The Sustainability Reporting is supported by sufficient evidence
- Joining an internal audit of Health, Safety, Environment & Security Management at the Industrial Chemicals site in Frankfurt, Germany
- Reviewing the relevant work of the Internal Audit function
Our additional audit procedures on the information in Note 1: Managing our sustainability agenda included among others:
- Testing the relevant work of the Internal Audit function in respect of the information in Note 1: Managing our sustainability agenda
- Interviews with relevant staff at corporate level responsible for providing the information for Note 1: Managing our sustainability agenda
During the assurance process we discussed the necessary changes of The Sustainability Reporting and reviewed the final version of The Report to ensure that it reflects our findings.
Amsterdam, February 11, 2015
Part of KPMG Advisory N.V.
W.J. Bartels RA, Partner