Assurance report of the independent auditor
To: Supervisory Board and Board of Management of Akzo Nobel N.V.
Based on our review, nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe the sustainability information included in the Report 2017 of Akzo Nobel N.V. does not present, in all material respects, a reliable and adequate view of:
- The policy and business operations with regard to sustainability
- The events and achievements related thereto for the year ended December 31, 2017, in accordance with the applied reporting criteria developed by AkzoNobel
In our opinion, the paragraphs “Monitoring progress” and “Management accountability” in the section “Managing sustainability” are prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with the applied reporting criteria developed by AkzoNobel.
What we are assuring
The sustainability information contains a representation of the policy and business operations of Akzo Nobel N.V., Amsterdam, (hereafter: “AkzoNobel”) regarding sustainability and the events and achievements related thereto for 2017.
We have reviewed the sustainability information for the year ended December 31, 2017, as included in the following sections in the Report 2017 (hereafter: “the sustainability information”) of AkzoNobel:
Additionally, we have audited the paragraphs “Monitoring progress” and “Management accountability” in the section “Managing sustainability”.
The links to external sources or websites in the sustainability information are not part of the Sustainability statements audited by us. We do not provide assurance over information outside of this sustainability information.
The basis for our conclusion and opinion
We conducted our assurance engagement in accordance with Dutch law, including the Dutch Standard 3810N “Assurance engagements on corporate social responsibility reports” (Assurance-opdrachten inzake maatschappelijke verslagen), a specified Dutch standard based on the International Standard on Assurance Engagements 3000: Assurance Engagements other than Audits or Reviews of Historical Financial Information. This assurance engagement is aimed at providing a combination of limited assurance on the sustainability information and reasonable assurance on the “Monitoring progress” and “Management accountability” paragraphs in the “Managing sustainability” section. Our responsibilities under this standard are further described in the section “Our responsibilities for the assurance engagement of the sustainability information” of this assurance report.
We believe the assurance information we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our conclusion and opinion.
Independence and quality control
We are independent of AkzoNobel in accordance with the “Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, a regulation with respect to independence“ (Verordening inzake de onafhankelijkheid van accountants bij assurance-opdrachten - ViO) and other relevant independence requirements in the Netherlands. Furthermore, we have complied with the “Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, a regulation with respect to rules of professional conduct” (Verordening gedrags- en beroepsregels accountants - VGBA).
We apply the “detailed rules for quality systems” (Nadere voorschriften kwaliteitssystemen) and accordingly maintain a comprehensive system of quality control, including documented policies and procedures regarding compliance with ethical requirements, professional standards and other applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
AkzoNobel developed its reporting criteria, as disclosed in AkzoNobel’s Reporting Principles 2017. The information in scope of this assurance engagement needs to be read and understood in conjunction with the reporting criteria as disclosed in the Reporting Principles 2017. The Board of Management is responsible for selecting and applying these reporting criteria. The absence of a significant body of established practice on which to draw, to evaluate and measure non-financial information allows for different, but acceptable, measurement techniques and can affect comparability between entities and over time.
The sustainability information includes prospective information such as expectations on ambitions, strategy, plans, estimates and risk assessments based on assumptions. Inherently, the actual results are likely to differ from these expectations, due to changes in assumptions. These differences may be material. We do not provide any assurance on the assumptions and achievability of prospective information in the sustainability information.
Responsibilities for the sustainability information and the assurance engagement responsibilities of the Board of Management
The Board of Management of AkzoNobel is responsible for the preparation of the sustainability information in accordance with the criteria as defined in AkzoNobel’s Reporting Principles 2017, including the identification of stakeholders and the definition of material topics. The choices made by the Board of Management regarding the scope of the sustainability information and the reporting policy are summarized in the section “Managing sustainability”. The Board of Management is responsible for determining that the applicable reporting criteria are acceptable in the circumstances.
The Board of Management is also responsible for such internal control as it determines is necessary to enable the preparation of the sustainability information that is free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.
Our responsibilities for the assurance engagement of the sustainability information
Our responsibility is to plan and perform an assurance engagement to allow us to obtain sufficient and appropriate assurance evidence to provide a basis for our conclusion and opinion.
Our procedures to support our conclusion are aimed at obtaining limited assurance. In obtaining a limited level of assurance, the performed procedures are aimed at determining the plausibility of information and are less extensive than those aimed at obtaining reasonable assurance in an assurance engagement. The assurance obtained in review engagements aimed at obtaining limited assurance is therefore significantly lower than the assurance obtained in assurance engagements aimed at obtaining reasonable assurance.
The procedures to support our opinion on the “Monitoring progress” and “Management accountability” paragraphs in the “Managing sustainability” section of the sustainability information have been performed with a high, but not absolute level, of assurance. This means we may not have detected all material misstatements.
Misstatements may arise due to irregularities, including fraud or error, and are considered to be material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of the sustainability information. The materiality affects the nature, timing and extent of our assurance engagement and the evaluation of the effect of identified misstatements on our conclusion and opinion.
We have exercised professional judgement and maintained professional scepticism throughout the assurance engagement, in accordance with the Dutch Standard 3810N, ethical requirements and independence requirements.
Our main review procedures include, among others:
- Performing an external environment analysis and obtaining insight into relevant social themes and issues, relevant laws and regulations and the characteristics of the organization
- Identifying and assessing the risks of material misstatement of the sustainability information, whether due to errors or fraud, designing and performing review procedures responsive to those risks, and obtaining review evidence that is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our conclusion. The risk of not detecting a material misstatement resulting from fraud is higher than for one resulting from errors, as fraud may involve collusion, forgery, intentional omissions, misrepresentations, or the override of internal control
- Evaluating design/implementation of reporting systems and processes related to the sustainability information
- Developing an understanding of internal control relevant to the assurance engagement to design assurance procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing a conclusion on the effectiveness of the company’s internal control
- Evaluating the appropriateness of the reporting policy and its consistent application, including the evaluation of the results of the stakeholders’ dialog and the reasonableness of estimates made by management and related disclosures in the sustainability information
- Evaluating the overall presentation, structure and content of the sustainability information, including the disclosures
- Evaluating whether the sustainability information represents the underlying transactions and events free from material misstatement
- Interviewing management (or relevant staff) at corporate and local level responsible for the sustainability strategy and policy
- Interviewing relevant staff at corporate level responsible for providing the sustainability information, carrying out internal control procedures on the data and consolidating the data in the sustainability information
- Joining internal audit of Health, Safety and Environment management at production sites in Delfzijl (Netherlands)
- An analytical review of the data and trends submitted for consolidation at corporate level
- Reviewing internal and external documentation to determine if the sustainability information, including the disclosure, presentation and assertions made in the sustainability information, is substantiated adequately
- Assessing the consistency of the sustainability information and the information in the Report 2017 not in scope for this assurance report
- Assessing whether the sustainability information has been prepared in accordance with the AkzoNobel sustainability reporting criteria
- Reviewing relevant work of the Internal Audit function
In addition to the above, we performed the following assurance procedures on the paragraphs “Monitoring progress” and “Management accountability” in the section “Managing sustainability” of the sustainability information:
- Corroborating information disclosed in this note through multiple interviews with selected staff from the company
- Testing operating effectiveness of relevant key controls related to how AkzoNobel manages its sustainability agenda
- Corroborating supporting documentation to determine whether the information in this note is substantiated adequately, such as management meeting agendas and minutes and internal management information.
Amsterdam, March 7, 2018
PricewaterhouseCoopers Accountants N.V.
Original has been signed by R. Dekkers RA