Accounting for sustainability
Critically assessing business response to the sustainable development agenda and the consequent financial implications for industry will be among the subjects explored at a summer school for academics at the University of St Andrews this week.
The University’s Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (CSEAR) will host the 18th International Congress on Social and Environmental Accounting Research (6-8 September 2006). The body, which counts Jonathon Porritt among its honorary fellows, was set up as a networking institution in 1991 and involves over 400 members from 40 countries.
Social and environmental accounting is an extremely diverse and emerging field. It is principally concerned with the identification, measurement, communication and subsequent control of the social and environmental effects of current accounting practice and organisational behaviour. The field covers everything from organisational reporting on (un) sustainability to helping managers improve the social and/or environmental effects of their investment decisions. The three-day event will involve up to 50 academics, students and practitioners in the field of social and environmental accounting, from a host of countries including the US, Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Australia and New Zealand. Topics range from corporate philanthropy to the organic salmon farming industry in Scotland.
CSEAR is directed by Professor Rob Gray, Professor of Social and Environmental Accounting at St Andrews. He said: “Politicians, academics and business people are just beginning to recognise the absolutely central place that finance and financial systems play in any pursuit of a more just and more environmentally sustainable world.
“The annual CSEAR congress is an opportunity for us to monitor our progress in re-imagining accounting and financial systems and it encourages us to re-examine whether we, as a community are doing enough to support change. Colleagues from around the world are beginning to make explicit in their work the growing conflict and urgency that surrounds the serious social and environmental global problems and the connection with the financial success of the large business and financial sector.”
Among the highlights will be a talk entitled “The Unsustainable Commandments of Corporate Accounting” by Professor Tom Gladwin, a Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. Another speaker will be one of the world’s leading radical thinkers in social science and sustainability, Professor Jesse Dillard of Portland State, USA. Meanwhile, one of the most published British academics in accounting and finance, Professor Tom Lee, will lead the research workshop for students and young staff, while a special forum for practitioners will be led by Forum for the Future’s David Bent.
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Ref: CSEAR 040906.doc
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