Sustainability accounting—a brief history and conceptual framework

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Lamberton, G 2005, 'Sustainability accounting—a brief history and conceptual framework', Accounting Forum, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 7-26.

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Research linking accounting to the emerging concept of sustainability surfaced in the early 1990s and has received continuing attention in academic and professional accounting literature. This paper tracks this brief history through to the release of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002, consolidating the various approaches into a sustainability accounting framework. The result is a comprehensive reporting model that presents an enormous challenge to business organisations, requiring a significant commitment of resources to achieve widespread implementation. Failure to meet this challenge enables business organisations to continue to avoid accountability for their continuing unsustainability. The paper concludes with a personal view as to how implementation of the sustainability accounting framework could proceed.