The crisis that affects enterprises has two salient features, the first of which concerns the transition phase we are going through and that will result in a market system, which has no precedent and that will need to develop ways to address enterprises that were never, or partly only, previously considered. We are in the process of transition to “modern sustainable” growth where “dissipative” growth, which considers profit as the main objective of companies, requires for the various countries a series of local and international interventions that are based mostly on the defense of resources at the time referred to as “nonrenewable.” This over time has increased the focus on a particular aspect, which in the past had no relevance and that was included in the naming of nonrenewable resources. Currently, instead of the term that inspires even more concern always and above all for companies, increasing attention is given to the “common goods,” i.e., not only goods that belong to everyone and therefore potentially include nonrenewable resources but also goods that appear to be belonging to a nation or a territory, i.e,, energy sources, etc., which, paradoxically, instead involve the fate of all humanity. In the past there dwelt the reasoning about the advantages and disadvantages of globalization; the current status of this reasoning is useful, but it is no longer sufficient to guide business decisions, since globalization is a characteristic feature of all business decisions. These decisions are enriched with other important elements such as just the modern sustainable and common goods. What answers to give to these guidelines, which are critical for the survival of companies and the planet. The company’s objectives are enriched in their new carrier (or dusted) decision variables and the search for “better” becomes the object of measurement processes and communication. One such variable is the environmental variable. The impact of the environmental variable on the enterprise has changed considerably over time. In fact, in the past it was found to have a bearing mainly on the physical aspects of natural pollution. It also had a connotation of the negative impact on environment in the sense that the company was polluting and wanted to take into account this impact, and therefore, it was necessary to make improvements with appropriate long-term investments orthrough the incurrence of costs attributable to exercise to make up for the damage allegedly caused by the company. The current state of the art, the ecological variable is no longer considered only in terms of physical environment and only in terms of an overload of higher costs for the company, but it has recently developed the logic that the environment variable generates significant economic opportunities for both the company that takes care of it. The environmental variable is creating new business opportunities and employment. This concept is known as “business environment.” This stems from the recognition that the “ecological bales,” such as plastic, paper, and glass, defined as recycled raw materials, are available at a lower cost and then at a lower final cost for the goods derived from them. It develops therefore a positive consideration of attention to the environment understood as direct impact and not just indirect impact on business activity. One can imagine a route that starts from a negative connotation of the environmental variable and gradually becomes more and more positive and reaches the opposite end which examines the excessive focus on the environment. This excessive attention to the environment could generate new activities arising from it, such as waste management. In this sense, the meaning of environmental management from the past is reversed, because the push towards an interest in the company was likely to create environmental variable increases, forward excessively oriented towards a profit resulting from the treatment of waste (!). The book develops an interesting scientific and practical path starting from the importance of the environmental variable to arrive at new and more all-encompassing measurement methods and communication of environmental, social, sustainable, and integral ones. These assessment methods and communication are increasingly necessary to develop and transmit information to guide the decisions of enterprises and stakeholders. Such information is also important to legitimize the enterprises’ activities in the context of globalization in order to build a sustainable modernity. Moreover, the information system must know how to identify (and reward) the ability of companies to create sustainable value and amend the behavior that undermines the sustainability. While in the past there dwelt the reasoning about the advantages and disadvantages of globalization, currently this reasoning is no longer sufficient to guide business decisions, which are (and must be) enriched by other important elements such as the “modern sustainability,” common goods, and the environmental variable which are critical for the survival of companies and the planet itself. The current state of the art, the ecological variable is no longer considered only in terms of physical environment and in terms of an overload of higher costs for the company, but it is also considered in terms of business environment. The logic that the environment variable generates significant economic opportunities for both the company and in the socio-economic context (local, national, and international context) has been developed recently. It is clear that the companies must adapt to the need to work on global markets, given the increasingly fierce competition, ever-dwindling natural resources, and the ever-increasing and new regulatory requirements for clean production.We show the variety and breadth of opportunities for environmental (and social) accounting and reporting. With this, we believe that the readers of this book from the circles of business will be convinced about the opportunities it provides in taking appropriate management decisions to improve the financial and reputational performance of the organizations. We hope that the critics and skeptics concerning the possibilities of environmental accounting will become less. We also believe that accounting colleagues in countries without systematic rules for national environmental accounting and reporting, who would read this book, may be convinced how important it is to create national standards for environmental accounting and reporting that can assist the management of the business. There is abundant experience in purely scientific research and in the practice of environmental accounting and reporting. These two aspects expect their new specific and creative application, adaptation, and enrichment, which is the inevitable future of laboratory science and business. All of our hopes are based on the conviction that the painful withdrawal of the “industrial wave” may become easier precisely by the efforts of the greening of human industrial and domestic activities and that “postindustrial society and postindustrial economy” are the world in which man belongs to nature, not nature to man. Environmental accounting and reporting in their tremendous diversity serve this new world to achieve the complex balance between the human well-being and the natural well-being—the symmetry between humans and the environment. Indeed, this book is the first attempt to show the business circles how to read the measurement methods and how to communicate them. It opens the way to new research questions and to new research fields, and we would be quite satisfied if we have been able to respond to the complex research questions, which we pose at the beginning of the work, that is: “What are the elements that must be taken into account as the foundation of the environmental decision-making process? We have tried to give a first response both from a theoretical point of view and from the practical point of view.” New perspectives are in fact developing in the environment and enterprise administration, as a passage from Environmental reporting to Integrated reporting. These new challenges, the current state of the art, cannot find an exhaustive answer in terms of measurement and internal/external communication. Such new doctrinal and empirical orientations create an attractive perspective in economics and management research fields that may provide new challenges to accounting scholars.

Environmental Accounting and Reporting. Theory and Practice

DEL BALDO, MARA;
2017-01-01

Abstract

The crisis that affects enterprises has two salient features, the first of which concerns the transition phase we are going through and that will result in a market system, which has no precedent and that will need to develop ways to address enterprises that were never, or partly only, previously considered. We are in the process of transition to “modern sustainable” growth where “dissipative” growth, which considers profit as the main objective of companies, requires for the various countries a series of local and international interventions that are based mostly on the defense of resources at the time referred to as “nonrenewable.” This over time has increased the focus on a particular aspect, which in the past had no relevance and that was included in the naming of nonrenewable resources. Currently, instead of the term that inspires even more concern always and above all for companies, increasing attention is given to the “common goods,” i.e., not only goods that belong to everyone and therefore potentially include nonrenewable resources but also goods that appear to be belonging to a nation or a territory, i.e,, energy sources, etc., which, paradoxically, instead involve the fate of all humanity. In the past there dwelt the reasoning about the advantages and disadvantages of globalization; the current status of this reasoning is useful, but it is no longer sufficient to guide business decisions, since globalization is a characteristic feature of all business decisions. These decisions are enriched with other important elements such as just the modern sustainable and common goods. What answers to give to these guidelines, which are critical for the survival of companies and the planet. The company’s objectives are enriched in their new carrier (or dusted) decision variables and the search for “better” becomes the object of measurement processes and communication. One such variable is the environmental variable. The impact of the environmental variable on the enterprise has changed considerably over time. In fact, in the past it was found to have a bearing mainly on the physical aspects of natural pollution. It also had a connotation of the negative impact on environment in the sense that the company was polluting and wanted to take into account this impact, and therefore, it was necessary to make improvements with appropriate long-term investments orthrough the incurrence of costs attributable to exercise to make up for the damage allegedly caused by the company. The current state of the art, the ecological variable is no longer considered only in terms of physical environment and only in terms of an overload of higher costs for the company, but it has recently developed the logic that the environment variable generates significant economic opportunities for both the company that takes care of it. The environmental variable is creating new business opportunities and employment. This concept is known as “business environment.” This stems from the recognition that the “ecological bales,” such as plastic, paper, and glass, defined as recycled raw materials, are available at a lower cost and then at a lower final cost for the goods derived from them. It develops therefore a positive consideration of attention to the environment understood as direct impact and not just indirect impact on business activity. One can imagine a route that starts from a negative connotation of the environmental variable and gradually becomes more and more positive and reaches the opposite end which examines the excessive focus on the environment. This excessive attention to the environment could generate new activities arising from it, such as waste management. In this sense, the meaning of environmental management from the past is reversed, because the push towards an interest in the company was likely to create environmental variable increases, forward excessively oriented towards a profit resulting from the treatment of waste (!). The book develops an interesting scientific and practical path starting from the importance of the environmental variable to arrive at new and more all-encompassing measurement methods and communication of environmental, social, sustainable, and integral ones. These assessment methods and communication are increasingly necessary to develop and transmit information to guide the decisions of enterprises and stakeholders. Such information is also important to legitimize the enterprises’ activities in the context of globalization in order to build a sustainable modernity. Moreover, the information system must know how to identify (and reward) the ability of companies to create sustainable value and amend the behavior that undermines the sustainability. While in the past there dwelt the reasoning about the advantages and disadvantages of globalization, currently this reasoning is no longer sufficient to guide business decisions, which are (and must be) enriched by other important elements such as the “modern sustainability,” common goods, and the environmental variable which are critical for the survival of companies and the planet itself. The current state of the art, the ecological variable is no longer considered only in terms of physical environment and in terms of an overload of higher costs for the company, but it is also considered in terms of business environment. The logic that the environment variable generates significant economic opportunities for both the company and in the socio-economic context (local, national, and international context) has been developed recently. It is clear that the companies must adapt to the need to work on global markets, given the increasingly fierce competition, ever-dwindling natural resources, and the ever-increasing and new regulatory requirements for clean production.We show the variety and breadth of opportunities for environmental (and social) accounting and reporting. With this, we believe that the readers of this book from the circles of business will be convinced about the opportunities it provides in taking appropriate management decisions to improve the financial and reputational performance of the organizations. We hope that the critics and skeptics concerning the possibilities of environmental accounting will become less. We also believe that accounting colleagues in countries without systematic rules for national environmental accounting and reporting, who would read this book, may be convinced how important it is to create national standards for environmental accounting and reporting that can assist the management of the business. There is abundant experience in purely scientific research and in the practice of environmental accounting and reporting. These two aspects expect their new specific and creative application, adaptation, and enrichment, which is the inevitable future of laboratory science and business. All of our hopes are based on the conviction that the painful withdrawal of the “industrial wave” may become easier precisely by the efforts of the greening of human industrial and domestic activities and that “postindustrial society and postindustrial economy” are the world in which man belongs to nature, not nature to man. Environmental accounting and reporting in their tremendous diversity serve this new world to achieve the complex balance between the human well-being and the natural well-being—the symmetry between humans and the environment. Indeed, this book is the first attempt to show the business circles how to read the measurement methods and how to communicate them. It opens the way to new research questions and to new research fields, and we would be quite satisfied if we have been able to respond to the complex research questions, which we pose at the beginning of the work, that is: “What are the elements that must be taken into account as the foundation of the environmental decision-making process? We have tried to give a first response both from a theoretical point of view and from the practical point of view.” New perspectives are in fact developing in the environment and enterprise administration, as a passage from Environmental reporting to Integrated reporting. These new challenges, the current state of the art, cannot find an exhaustive answer in terms of measurement and internal/external communication. Such new doctrinal and empirical orientations create an attractive perspective in economics and management research fields that may provide new challenges to accounting scholars.
978-3-319-50916-7
978-3-319-50918-1
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