We are currently experiencing what is often called the sixth period of mass extinction on planet Earth, caused undoubtedly by the impact of human activities and businesses on nature. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential for accounting and corporate accountability to contribute to extinction prevention. The paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach, weaving scientific evidence and theory into organisational disclosure and reporting in order to demonstrate linkages between extinction, business behaviour, accounting and accountability as well as to provide a basis for developing a framework for narrative disclosure on extinction prevention.
The paper is theoretical and interdisciplinary in approach, seeking to bring together scientific theories of extinction with a need for corporate and organisational accountability whilst recognising philosophical concerns in the extant environmental accounting literature about accepting any business role and capitalist mechanisms in ecological matters. The overarching framework derives from the concept of emancipatory accounting.
The outcome of the writing is to: present an emancipatory “extinction accounting” framework which can be embedded within integrated reports, and a diagrammatic representation, in the form of an “ark”, of accounting and accountability mechanisms which, combined, can assist, the authors argue, in preventing extinction. The authors suggest that the emancipatory framework may also be applied to engagement meetings between the responsible investor community (and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)) and organisations on biodiversity and species protection.
The exploratory extinction accounting and accountability frameworks within this paper should provide a basis for further research into the emancipatory potential for organisational disclosures and mechanisms of governance and accountability to prevent species extinction.
The next steps for researchers and practitioners involve development and implementation of the extinction accounting and engagement frameworks presented in this paper within integrated reporting and responsible investor practice.
As outlined in this paper, extinction of any species of flora and fauna can affect significantly the functioning of local and global ecosystems, the destruction of which can have, and is having, severe and dangerous consequences for human life. Extinction prevention is critically important to the survival of the human race.
This paper represents a comprehensive attempt to explore the emancipatory role of accounting in extinction prevention and to bring together the linkages in accounting and accountability mechanisms which, working together, can prevent species extinction.
The authors are grateful to a number of people who have provided constructive comments and suggestions on this research, especially Rob Gray who has helped us to develop our ideas and framework. The authors thank delegates at the annual Accounting Conference held at Brunel Business School in June 2016 where the ideas within this paper were presented and also attendees at a presentation at the WWF, Woking, in October 2016. Thanks to members of ShARC (Sheffield Animals Research Centre) at the University of Sheffield who provided comments at a presentation of the paper in December 2016. Also, the authors are grateful for comments received from colleagues at a staff seminar presentation of this paper at Nottingham Trent University in March 2017, especially Tom Spencer, Graham Needham, Michael McCann, Hafez Abdo and Musa Mangena. Thanks also to those attending a presentation of this paper at the University of Pisa, May 2017, especially Federica Doni and Antonello Corvino. The authors thank delegates at the Extinction and Species Roundtable: Accounting, Accountability and Engagement, held at S&P Global, London, in July 2017, for their ideas and insights as well as to delegates and colleagues for their comments at presentations of the paper in a public lecture at WITS University, South Africa in August 2017, at the annual CRAFiC conference in Sheffield in September 2017 and at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures conference in Sheffield in October 2017. The authors would also like to thank Mervyn E. King for his supportive comments and suggestions on the paper during its development. Finally, thanks to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments on this paper and to James Guthrie for his supportive comments and suggestions throughout the preparation of the special issue and this paper.
Atkins, J. and Maroun, W. (2018), "Integrated extinction accounting and accountability: building an ark", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 750-786. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-06-2017-2957Download as .RIS
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