Sustainable development and environmental accounting: the challenge to the economics and accounting profession

Gamini Herath (School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Publication date: 1 December 2005



The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of natural resources accounting in sustainable development. Natural resource accounting is important because the welfare of a nation measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) has several weaknesses.


This paper achieves this objective by identifying the present status, the constraints and the challenges for the economics and accounting professions.


The main weakness of GDP as a measure of development is that it does not take into account damages to environmental resources. However, the improvement of the concept to include environmental resource use is made difficult because of the difficulties of measuring environmental damage. The challenge to the economics and accounting profession is to ensure interdisciplinary collaboration, development of a framework to explicitly include the environment, development of credible valuation procedures for the environment, and inclusion of the various ethical positions advanced by various groups on the value of the environment.

Practical implications

Some headway has been made on these issues during the last decade but a major challenge still lies ahead in further improving these approaches so that sustainable development becomes an achievable goal.


This paper brings together diverse views and fusing them together providing a future path for research in environmental accounting to achieve sustainable development.



Herath, G. (2005), "Sustainable development and environmental accounting: the challenge to the economics and accounting profession", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 32 No. 12, pp. 1035-1050.

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