Accounting for sustainability: an overview

Published on November 30, 2017   33 min

A selection of talks on Finance, Accounting & Economics

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Hello. My name is Jeffrey Unerman. I am a Professor of Accounting and Corporate Accountability at Royal Holloway, University of London, and it's my pleasure to present to you today an HS talk providing an introductory overview of accounting for sustainability.
What I hope to accomplish in this talk is firstly, to explain how complexity of decision-making is made considerably more complex when we take into account the interacting dimensions of social and environmental sustainability alongside more conventional considerations of economic sustainability. I then want to move on to look at how some techniques of sustainability accounting can help organizations embed within the decision-making and the management control and awareness of how social and environmental risks and opportunities interact with economic factors. And finally, I want to look at the area of sustainability reporting and how this can help organizations in their duties of accountability, not just to owners, but to a broad range of stakeholders.
So to start off with, we will look at how decision-making becomes a lot more complex when we take into account the interacting dimensions of sustainability. In order to do this, we need to start off, I believe, by looking at what the overall role of accounting is.
In very basic terms, the overall of accounting will be familiar to many people as a technology that helps communicate information in a way that helps people and organizations make better decisions. Therefore, accounting really at its very essence is about aiding decision-making. To understand sustainability accounting in this context, it's necessarily for us to unpack what we mean by decisions and how accounting helps in those decisions.