Sustainability Accounting - History


The concept of sustainability accounting has emerged from developments in accounting, with roots in a broader sense over a period of the last forty years and in the narrow sense over the last ten years. The development reveals two lines of thought. The first line is the philosophical debate about accountability if and how it contributes to sustainable development and which are the necessary steps towards sustainability. This approach is based on an entirely new system of accounting designed to promote a strategy of sustainability. Second line is the management perspective associated with varied terms and tools towards sustainability. This could be seen as an extension of or modification to conventional financial cost or management accounting. The former may be more appealing: To develop sustainability accounting de novo allows a complete reappraisal of the relative significance of social, environmental and economic benefits and risks and their interactions in corporate accounting systems. The development which leads to sustainable accounting could be distinguished in several time periods in which a number of trends were evident: 1971–1980, 1981–1990, 1991–1995 and up to the present. These periods distinguish in volume of empirical studies, normative statements, philosophical discussion, teaching programmes, literature and regulatory frameworks.

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