The authors of a forthcoming research paper propose a way to bridge two perspectives of reporting that are used today. While the scholarly field of environmental monitoring focus on a detailed understanding of the complex interactions between many ecosystem dimensions and the interplay between different anthropogenic activities, corporate sustainability accounting aims to reduce the level of complexity so it is feasible for an individual company to report on.
Building on the notion of what is essential – a minimal set of variables – the authors propose the development of Essential Environmental Impact Variables (EEIV), and hope to provide a starting point for a discussion on how to conceptualize, capture and disclose corporate environmental impacts.
Ten environmental dimensions
The suggested reporting variables are grounded in scientific review and evidence and encompass a tentative minimum set of variables needed to capture corporate impacts on ten environmental dimensions, including the nine planetary boundaries.
The variables are derived in two ways:
- A combination of scientific review and expert elicitation that summarize how corporate activities in seven primary sector industries impact the environment.
- A translation of the resulting generalized systems map of corporate impact into 5 general and 10 industry-specific EEIVs that can help standardise and improve corporate sustainability reporting.
By asking for corporate disclosure of the underlying environmental impact data, EEIVs would make possible both third party evaluation of progress against publicly set corporate environmental targets, but also the aggregate assessment of impact within and across economic sectors.
The paper, currently in the process of being peer reviewed, is authored by Emmy Wassénius, Beatrice Crona, and Sasha Quahe. You can access the research paper via: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4362266 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4362266