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Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: An enabling role for accounting research

Jan Bebbington (University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)
Jeffrey Unerman (Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 15 January 2018

43858

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to establish and advance the role of academic accounting in the pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are regarded as the most salient point of departure for understanding and achieving environmental and human development ambitions up to (and no doubt beyond) the year 2030.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a synthesis of interdisciplinary perspectives on sustainable development and integration of this with the accounting for sustainability literature. In addition, potential accounting research contributions are proposed so as to support the development of new research avenues.

Findings

Existing research in accounting that is relevant to individual SDGs serves as an initial link between them and the accounting discipline. At the same time, the SDGs focus highlights new sites for empirical work (including interdisciplinary investigations) as well as inviting innovation in accounting theoretical frameworks. Moreover, the SDGs provide a context for (re)invigorating accounting’s contribution to sustainable development debates.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to explore the roles academic accounting can play in furthering achievement of the SDGs through enhanced understanding, critiquing and advancing of accounting policy, practice and theorizing. It is also the first paper to propose a research agenda in this area.

Keywords

Citation

Bebbington, J. and Unerman, J. (2018), "Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: An enabling role for accounting research", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 2-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-05-2017-2929

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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