Environmental Sustainability and Agenda 2030: Volume 10

Cover of Environmental Sustainability and Agenda 2030

Efforts, Progress and Prospects


Table of contents

(9 chapters)

Environmental sustainability is one of humanity's most daunting issues and continues to garner attention from researchers and policymakers. The substantial corpus of work on sustainability has focused on broader sustainable development goals (SDGs), with occasional discourse on the progress of environmental issues within the SDGs. In this issue, we draw precise attention to environmental SDGs and their implementation progress at country and company level, underscoring the actions required to accomplish Agenda 2030. The contributions to this special issue provide incremental knowledge of the state of progress made towards accomplishing Agenda 2030, as well as advance our understanding of corporate environmental research particularly in developing countries. We report a concise viewpoint of the chapters featured in this special issue of Advances in Environmental Accounting and Management on the progress and prospects of environmental sustainability and Agenda 2030. Our review and summary highlights crucial findings from each contribution, the implications of such findings for policymakers, and areas for immediate and future actions pertinent for the accomplishment of the Agenda. The overarching outcome from the chapters featured in the special issue suggests a positive change in the appetite for sustainable practices at both country and company level. Yet, the practicality and approach to attain the goals set by United Nations Agenda 2030 is still a distance away. We believe insights from chapters in this issue would provide pragmatic support to managers and governments in developing and implementing strategic actions to confront the growing yet emerging state of environmental SDGs accomplishment at country and company levels.


The transformational prospects of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are doubtless. Nonetheless, finding the appropriate implementation mechanisms to accomplish these goals and their targets and deliver on the promise of Agenda 2030 is proving challenging. Using publicly available documentary evidence from Voluntary National Reviews and Sustainable Development Reports, we analysed the progress of environmental SDG implementation in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) countries. The findings reveal an overall implementation progress level of 64% and 62% in BRICS and MINT, respectively. Relatively, countries in BRICS outperformed their MINT counterparts in five of the six environmental SDGs analysed. Our assessment broadly notes a promising engagement with environmental SDGs in these blocs, albeit with limited progress, and the presence of impressionistic practices in reportage of successes compared with challenges. We highlight the critical environmental goals and areas for practical actions to accomplish Agenda 2030 moving forward. The study specifically draws the attention of policymakers to issues of climate action (SDG13) and affordable and clean energy (SDG7), where immediate actions are needed to ramp up environmental actions. Given the limited time left to accomplish Agenda 2030, the findings of this study provide timely insight into the environmental SDGs that are at risk of failure in these developing countries. The study significantly implicates developing countries' ability to achieve Agenda 2030 and provides practical and actionable policy measures that are urgently needed to address the situation.


The Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12) that aims at ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns is dependent on efficient and effective transport infrastructure. But many new transport infrastructure projects are delayed due to complex conflicts between multiple stakeholders with different stakes. This chapter illustrates how a multi-stakeholder participation process based on systems thinking can be used to generate a shared mental model of stakeholders in conflict. Using the systems thinking and modelling methodology, the complex problem situation is first structured by identifying and analysing the stakeholders. Then a participative approach is employed to develop a systems model that captures the underlying structure responsible for the problem situation. Finally, three strategic interventions are formulated by the stakeholders to improve the system behaviour in the long term. In this chapter, both quantitative and qualitative data were collected using structured interviews, focus groups and secondary sources. Using a New Zealand transport infrastructure project, the chapter shows that effective multi-stakeholder participation, capable of leading to some form of multi-stakeholder partnership, can help reduce delays in a transport infrastructure project. Practically, the chapter provides a framework that can reach an accommodation between conflicting stakeholders. Overall, this chapter contributes New Zealand–based empirical research to the literature on multi-stakeholder participation for achieving SDG 12 within the context of Agenda 2030.


This research develops a set of specific modern slavery disclosure principles for organisations. It critically evaluates seven legislative Acts from five different countries and 16 guidelines and directives from international organisations. By undertaking an in-depth content analysis, the research derives an index comprising nine principles and 49 disclosure items to promote best-practice disclosure in tackling modern slavery. We promote nine active principles for organisations to implement and disclose: recognising modern slavery practices, identifying risks, publishing a modern slavery risk prevention policy, proactive in assessing and addressing risks, assessing efficacy of actions, garnering internal and external oversight, externally communicating modern slavery risk mitigation, implementing a suppliers' assessment and code of conduct to ensure transparency and specifying consequences for non-compliance. The research is motivated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8, which focusses on economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work. The research findings will assist practitioners seeking to discover and disclose evidence of modern slavery practices and their mitigation to minimise and encourage the elimination of this unethical and illegal practice in domestic and global supply chains and operations.


This chapter investigates the relevance of sustainability accounting practice (SAP) in the actualisation of the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs) 2030. Whilst the SDGs appear general, broad and far-reaching, the sustainable development agenda (SDA) impliedly places responsibilities on member nations to evolve strategies that will ensure the achievement of the SDGs in their respective countries in accordance with national circumstances and peculiar challenges. This brings to bear the need to consider measures to translate the SDGs to realities, especially in developing countries. We use a structured questionnaire to collect data on the application of SAP from publicly listed manufacturing companies in Nigeria. Secondary data on economic performance were obtained from the annual reports of companies for 5 years (2014–2018). Structural Equation Modelling and Mann-Whitney test were applied to analyse data. Result suggests that whilst the implementation level of SAP by companies is generally moderate, internalities/‘pull factors’ such as market orientation and deliberate strategy formulation significantly determine the sophistication level of SAP. The insignificant effect of the externalities/‘push factors’ (i.e. environmental uncertainty, structure of ownership and control, and intensity of competition) on SAP suggests that external pressure on companies to implement sustainability initiatives is weak. We also find that extensive usage of SAP can sustain economic performance in the long run. The chapter provides empirical evidence that manufacturing companies extensively implementing SATs can sustain economic performance and would likely have enough economic resources to implement some initiatives that are fundamental to the actualisation of the SDGs 2030. The chapter contributes to the sparse literature on sustainability practice in developing countries, and incrementally adds to knowledge on the factors driving SAP in a jurisdiction characterised by lax regulatory framework and weak institutional apparatus on sustainability. As evident in our findings, SAP engenders sustainable economic performance.


The study examined voluntary disclosure of contributions towards SDG-6 achievement by premium board companies in the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It employed a qualitative research design in which data were collected from the sustainability/annual reports of these companies and subjected to content analysis. The analysis shows overall poor quality as the disclosures are not linked to indicators that can help measure the extent of meeting the UN set target for SDG-6. Two tangible indicators disclosed are water use efficiency and construction of boreholes. However, there is no disclosure of the proportion of the population that gained access to clean water through these initiatives. Similarly, poor quality exists when compliance with GRI-303 on water information disclosure was assessed. The motivation behind the disclosures points to a continuation of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The objective is to gain a social licence to operate, and legitimation as opposed to signalling superior SDG-6 performance.


Over the last few decades, corporate environmental reporting (CER) has received substantial attention due to complex societal and ecological challenges experienced at a global scale. While there has been growth in CER research across the world, we know very little of the state of CER research in Africa. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive literature review of CER in sub-Saharan Africa to demonstrate its current state, uncover gaps in extant studies and identify areas for further research in the region. We perform a metasearch on the Financial Times Top 50 journals in addition to wider analyses using African Journals Online (AJOL) and Google Scholar between 2008 and 2020. Though there is some progress in interrogating CER in the region, there is much leeway for further research into how public and private corporations provide an account for their interaction with nature. Extant studies have examined how CER is often subsumed within corporate social responsibility initiatives while other studies explore ways in which CER can provide accountability mechanisms in the mining sector of select countries. Important areas of future research include the influences of legal, cultural and political systems on the level of CER, the tensions between economic development driven by multinational corporations and the necessity for ecological protection. Finally, further research could investigate the role CER can play in encouraging specific corporate disclosures around GHG emissions, especially given global efforts being undertaken to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Cover of Environmental Sustainability and Agenda 2030
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Advances in Environmental Accounting & Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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