SUSTAINABILITY ACCOUNTING AND REPORTING
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Ave MCH 316
Saint Paul, MN 55105
SUSTAINABILITY ACCOUNTING AND REPORTING
Sustainability education or learning involves more than providing expert knowledge to inform students about sustainability issues. It is about encouraging transformative learning—the capacity to construct knowledge to challenge practice, to critique and debate sustainability issues.
The basis objective of teaching “Sustainability” in the first year accounting course is to introduce basic concepts and motivation for sustaining management accounting and reporting. Students would become acquainted with major frameworks and would be able to discuss relationships of sustainability to financial accounting and prepare students to carry out these concepts into management and cost accounting courses. By incorporating sustainability into the beginning financial accounting course helps students learn to think critically by giving them a range of questions to consider at the same time as the traditional problems and questions of the accounting curriculum. Several case studies could be incorporated into the financial accounting class that deal with activities, methods and systems to record, analyze and report environmental and economic uses that constitute the dimensions of sustainability. Background
Sustainability accounting” has become a generic term! A review of the literature gives a blurred picture of what is covered by this term. It appears that few definitions of sustainability accounting exists evening papers with the term in their titles. It also seems that sustainability accounting has not been adequately conceptualized and at best a vague description can be found of what is expected from sustainability accounting. In many cases it appears that sustainability accounting is just used as another term for environmental accounting or environmental reporting) see, for example, Lambertson’s (2005.p.8) brief history of sustainability accounting). This then raises a number of questions such as:
What fundamental lines of thought are contained in the literature on sustainability accounting?
2. What interpretations of sustainability accounting can be distinguished in the light of information management?
What this paper will focus on is the role of sustainability accounting as an approach to help support management improve sustainability and responsibility. With the growing body of literature on sustainability accounting, one area of thought that becomes evident: Does accounting contribute to sustainability development or does accounting blur the view and constrains management from taking the necessary steps toward sustainability? Sustainability accounting, as a concept, has emerged from developments in accounting over a period of years. Accounting has long been presented in a conventional way for
management and external parties. Financial accounting provides the foundation for information gathered within the organization and prepared for presentation to external stakeholders through disclosure in external reports. The second type of accounting, cost accounting, provides management about inventory asset values for inclusion in the annual reports as well as focusing on information for management decision-making, planning and control. Sustainability accounting could then be developed in a different way: a system of accounting designed to promote a strategy of sustainability and as an extension or modification to financial, cost or management accounting.
Changes to conventional accounting have already taken the form of environmental accounting as the foundation for external environmental reporting and has been expressed in physical and qualitative terms, or non-financial terms. Triple bottom line accounting introduces separate economic, social and...
References: Esty, Daniel C. and Winston, Andrew S. “Green to Gold” Yale University Press, New Haven &
London copyright 2006.
Uhl, Christopher, “Developing Ecological Consciousness”. Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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