Sustainability Gathering 2016

On Tuesday Sustainable Nation Ireland (http://sustainablenation.ie/) held the Sustainability Gathering, a one-day event in Dublin Castle bringing together industry and policy-makers and consisting of back-to-back panel discussions on business, investment and policy for sustainability. The event blurb stated that it was aimed to “discuss and showcase the many ways that Irish businesses can grab a share of the estimated €85 trillion which will be invested in global sustainability and resource efficiency by 2030″.

Four panels were held, bookended by an introduction and wrap-up. Stephen Nolan, CEO of Sustainable Nation Ireland, introduced the Gathering, observing that he hoped the day would provide some insight on how corporate Ireland can work with government to “show government the opportunities in this space”. He opened with some examples of Irish corporate engagement with sustainability:

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He also highlighted the findings below from a recent KPMG survey that illustrates that 74% of Irish companies “recognise sustainability as important to business strategy”.

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The next introductory speakers were Pat Cox, Chairman of the Sustainability Gathering and former President of the European Parliament, and John Mullins, Chairman of Sustainable Nation Ireland, who briefly discussed sustainability at a policy level. Pat Cox suggested that the Irish government must set GHG emissions targets in every sector, and develop actionable sector-specific plans. He noted that emissions in all sectors are going up and that we need to be mindful of the EU’s increasingly ambitious targets. His recommendation was “policy innovation” and he suggested that the government needs to open conversations with a range of actors, for example, talk to taxi drivers about switching to electric vehicles. We need “dialogue focused on deliverables, not diagnosis”.

They also considered the impact of the political situation in the US post-Trump. Pat Cox noted that not all industries in the US are committed to sustainability e.g. the motor industry, while John Mullins warned that corporate America will continue to lobby in its own interests.

This discussion was followed by four panels, all chaired by David Murphy of RTE. A brief summary of each panel follows below.

Panel 1: Providing a supportive policy framework, an insight

Speakers:
• Eamonn Confrey, Principal Officer Decarbonisation Unit, D/Communications,
Climate Action & the Environment
• Des O’Leary, Principal Officer Climate Finance, D/Finance
• Dr. John O’Neill, Principal Officer Climate Policy, D/Communications,
Climate Action & the Environment
• Declan Hughes, Assistant Secretary General Action Plan for Jobs,
D/Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation

This discussion featured four policymakers from three different governmental departments, and offered a fascinating insight into the government view on private and public sector collaboration.

Eamonn Confrey discussed electric vehicles, and suggested that the public sector can be an early adopter. He also noted the importance of giving certainty to investors, a theme that was picked up by a number of speakers during the morning.

Des O’Leary suggested that the private sector was a crucial driver of renewable energy, and John O’Neill agreed that government would like to engage more with the private sector. John drew our attention to the national climate change mitigation plan, which will be published for consultation in next few weeks. He suggested that climate policy is currently top-down, and that more engagement is needed at a regional level. He also suggested that innovation is required on adaptation as well as mitigation, noting that a new national adaptation plan will be published mid-2017.

Declan Hughes spoke of productivity, sustainability and resilience in agriculture and highlighted the role of ag. tech and ag. machinery. He noted that the industry is aiming for an increase in output with a decrease in input. He also stressed that the delivery of policies requires “ownership at a local level”, referring to the case of the proposed Apple data centre in Athenry (latest news here).

When it came to the audience Q&A environmental campaigner Duncan Stewart (of RTE’s Eco-Eye) said he was disappointed with the level of the discussion and suggested that there was no leadership coming from government, just “lack of action and lack of joined-up thinking”. He called for the establishement of a “high price on fossil fuels”. The panel responded that this would result in competitiveness issues for Ireland, and burden sharing in terms of tax. John O’Neill suggested that taxation is only one small element of policies that need to be changed and promised a range of issues in the forthcoming mitigation plan.

Panel 2: Mobilising Finance for a Sustainable, Low Carbon Economy

Speakers:
• Colin Hunt, Managing Director Wholesale & Institutional Banking, AIB
• Peter Cripps, Editor-in-Chief, Environmental Finance
• Helena Anderson, Head of Capital Investment, UK Department of
Trade & Investment
• Manus O’Donnell, CIO NTR Plc

The second panel focused on investment for sustainability, with insight on both lending to businesses and large-scale insitutional investment.

Peter Cripps suggested that investors are now relatively confident when it comes to solar and wind energy, and emphasised that it is “crucial to get institutional investors on board”. He has observed an increase in demand for more data from investors such as carbon footprinting for companies, and also a push back on carbon footprinting not being enough. Peter discussed the upcoming FSB guidance on climate-related risk (due on 14th December from the TCFD) and suggested that investors are concerned about the risk of overvaluation of fossil fuel-related assets, a point Manus O’Donnell also echoed. Peter Cripp also noted that new legislation in France on ESG reporting will come into effect next year (see here for info). He also drew our attention to the work of the Grantham Research Institute on carbon budgets (http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/).

Peter identified a number of trends related to sustainability and green investment:

  • Shareholder action becoming more common, as in the case of a number of mining companies
  • Green bond market – this is still tiny but has seen an explosion of interest. He highlighted Irish company Gaelectric as one to watch in this area.
  • Companies now reporting carbon emissions. Here he referred to the recent Carbon Disclosure Project report on Irish companies.

Later in the discussion, he proposed a couple of policy directions for Ireland. The first was the PACE housing scheme in the US, where energy efficiency upgrades are made to homes but the debt is attached to the home rather than the owner. Second was a Green Investment Bank as in the UK, which he suggests can help to make investors more comfortable with the riskiest stages of investment.

Helena Anderson gave us the UK perspective, arguing that Brexit will not effect the UK government’s investment in green finance. She suggested that institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies are becoming more comfortable with risk, and cautioned that “huge amounts of public funding crowd out the private sector”.

Colin Hunt of AIB noted that there is a capital gap in the early, more risky part of funding. He suggested that “financial innovation” is required. From his perspective it is government, not business that needs to be convinced to invest in sustainability, and he urged government to provide the regulatory framework. He highlighted this open letter from US companies to Donald Trump. He closed with the point that talk of a “Green IFSC (Irish Financial Services Centre) lacks credibility when Ireland is failing to meet its EU climate targets. In his view “we have a mountain to climb”.

Panel 3: Enterprise led, Solutions driven

Speakers:

• Jim Fitzharris, Group Secretary, Smurfit Kappa Group
• Tom Mitchell, Head of Ireland-U.K. (EU’s largest climate tech platform)
• Ronan Furlong, CEO Alpha Innovation, DCU

• Tom Mitchell, Director UK and Ireland, Climate-KIC

• Christine Boyle, CEO, Senergy Innovations

• Seemab Sheikh – Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Denmark in Ireland

Jim Fitzharris gave us an introduction to sustainability reporting at Smurfit Kappa, observing that the only way you know what you’re doing is to manage and report on it. He also said that he would like to corporate Ireland “upset the applecart” and really push renewable energy.

Seemab Sheik gave a fascinating insight into Danish economic and environmental policy. She said that their approach to sustainability began during the 1970s oil crisis, when they realised they could not be dependent on imported fuel. Denmark is now branded as “State of Green” and she explained that this branding allows them to bring all actors together. When asked later in the Q&A how government reacts if industry responds to new policies with “no, that’s too expensive”, she indicated that they simply explain to industry that they will lose out if they don’t adjust.

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Denmarks’ State of Green branding image

Tom Mitchell discussed the various initiatives Climate-KIC plans to bring to Ireland, including a green entrepreneurship education platform. He suggested that more regulation increases innovation, citing the EU emissions trading scheme as an example

Christine Boyle told the story of her company Senergy, which aims to provide low cost solar energy, giving an insight into the challenges of starting and growing a renewable energy business. Support is available from sources like DCU’s Alpha Innovation, which, as Ronan Furlong explained, has helped organisations such as Exergen get valuable EU funding. Ronan also observed that he is now seeing innovation at business process level as well as a technological level.

A brief interlude after the panel was the presentation of the Sustainable Business Leadership Award 2016 to Sean O’Driscoll, President of Glen Dimplex. In his short speech he suggested that energy efficiency and renewable energy must be developed in tandem. He called for the electricification of heat and transport and clear policies and strong regulations to make this happen. He indicated the the primary energy factor for electricity must be revised, as it is currently at a disadvantage compared to fossil fuels.

Panel 4: Positioned to Lead, Ireland’s opportunity

Speakers:
• Sean O’Driscoll, President Glen Dimplex
• Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern History UCD
• Sean Kidney, CEO Climate Bonds Initiative
• Fergal Leamy, CEO Coillte

In the final panel Diarmuid Ferriter spoke of the new political challenges presented by 2016. He observed that politics now faces many new and modern challenges such as climate change. He suggested that Ireland must champion a green agenda and push it to the best of our ability internationally, in a variety of different international fora. He also argued that climate change education should be compulsory in schools and that society must “get our heads around” the idea of climate-related taxes. Asked about the US situation, he commented that in Ireland we get an “east coast, liberal view” on the US; we don’t hear much about the “spectacular inequality” in the country (see the Guardian’s Anywhere but Washington series for some indication).

Continuing the US theme, Sean O’Driscoll suggested that the US will ignore the Paris climate change agreement and that “China will use it to get one up on the US”. He referred to the problem of “trapped assets in developed countries that industries will want to protect”, not such an issue in developing countries. On Brexit, he drew our attention to this ESRI report on the sector and product-specific impacts on Ireland.

Fergal Leamy discussed renewable energy, suggesting that it can be one of Ireland’s competitive advantages. However he also called for clearer policy, telling us that Coillte hesitated on investing in wind farms because of the lack of a planned policy framework.

The last word of the panel was left to Sean Kidney, from the NGO Climate Bonds Initiative. He began by outlining the reality of climate change, stating that “our future is currently unbelievably grim. 2degrees warming is the ambition. We are currently at 4degrees”. His advice was that “we need to bridge the gap between capital and deals”, suggesting that this is where financiers come in, and this is also where Ireland comes in with innovation. He also advised that the shift must be signaled from the top, at Prime Minister level.

The last speaker of the day was Jim Gannon, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), who had some homework for the audience. He urged us to respond to public consultations on climate change action and to get our views across to policy makers:

“We need to lead by example. We all need to act and engage”.

 

 

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NUIG 1916 – 2016 Conference

Last weekend NUI Galway held a national conference on the theme of “Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty”, in honour of the centenary of Irish independence. The four day conference brought together speakers from academia, industry and media to take a retrospective and prospective look at Irish politics, economy and society in the past 100 years and into the future.

The presence of some leading sociologists, economists and political scientists made for stimulating and in-depth sessions on societal, economic and policy issues, which have significant implications for sustainable development, and business, in Ireland. A few of these sessions were of particular interest in the sustainability/business context and these are reviewed below.

Economy and Society

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Prof. Kevin O’Rourke presents his paper alongisde some of his respondents

First up is Friday’s session on “Economy, Society and Well-being of Citizens”. The keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Kevin O’Rourke from the University of Oxford, who spoke on “Independent Ireland: a comparative perspective”, a review of Irish economic history from 1916 – 2016, in comparison with other European countries. The data presented clearly illustrated how, having grown in line with Europe from 1926 – 2001,  Ireland suddenly became an economic growth “overperformer” at the turn of the Millenium.

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Irish GDP volatility 1960 – 2014

Prof. O’Rourke went on to discuss Brexit, suggesting that we have to hope that the UK chooses a “soft Brexit”, but that countries will invariably look after their own self-interest. He pointed out that this was something Ireland is no stranger to, citing our corporation tax-rate. He highlighted that tariffs on exports to the UK may be imposed by the OECD and we will need a transitional trade deal while Brexit is occuring over the next couple of years. Prof. O’Rourke also talked us through the the Irish export figures, observing that the EU is a far more common export destination for every sector except agriculture. He closed by cautioning that “the kind of hyper-globalisation we’ve been so good at exploiting is becoming politically unsustainable throughout the western world”.

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The destination of Irish exports, as presented by Prof. O’Rourke

After Prof. O’Rourke’s paper, five respondents from different scholarly perspectives gave their views on the session theme and, to varying extents, the paper.

First was Prof. Alan Barrett of the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute), who focused on the Society and Well-being aspects of the theme, and in particular on the topic of children’s welfare. With reference to the 1916 proclamation, he asked: does Ireland treat all its’ children equally? The ESRI has set about answering this question through the Growing up in Ireland (GUI) survey (http://www.growingup.ie/index.php?id=9), where 18,000 children have been interviewed and tested at various stages of their lives. The report has revealed some startling findings on the link between social disadvantage and learning, low birth weight and obesity, such as those illustrated in the slide below. His conclusion was that, no, every child in Ireland is not getting an equal start in life.

20161111_151222The panel considers Prof. Barrett’s findings

The next respondent was Prof. Mary Corcoran from Maynooth University’s Sociology Department, and she spoke of the concept of “everyday civicism”. She defined this as social civility, the “everyday interactions” that “create the latticework that hold society together”. She noted that in the wake of the recession, participatory spaces of different kinds have sprung up where exchange, democracy and debate is taking place, such as urban allotments, public libraries, festivals etc. So although we may have “lost the plot”, she said, we’ve also demonstrated “a lot of resilience, resourcefulness and civicism”.

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“We may have lost the plot…” Prof. Mary Corcoran

Tony Foley of Dublin City University then spoke of the historic lack of indigenous manufacturing entrepreneurship in Ireland. He suggested that this has not emerged due to a mismatch between cost base and technical capability. Dr. Eoin O’Leary of University College Cork began on a similar theme, observing that although 80% of Irish R&D is spent by MNCs, they are three times less likely to innovate than Irish companies. He put this down to Ireland’s “rent-seeking” economic policy, suggesting that we have a “dissociative” approach to policy, supporting FDI over indigenous industry, and that the government needs to create conditions for “bottom-up” economic development.

20161111_201704 20161111_201723Dr. Eoin O’Leary’s suggestions for Irish economic policy

Lastly, Dr. Conor Skehan of Dublin Institute of Technology discussed the urbanisation of Irish society, highlighting how much the distribution of our population has changed in the past 100 years, and particularly in the last 20.

The session closed with a brief Q&A, which featured several audience questions related to sustainability. In response, Kevin O’Rourke expressed his support for climate-related trade tariffs*.

Education

The Saturday morning session was entitled “The Challenges, Promises and Responsibilities of Education in the 21st Century”, where the keynote speaker was Prof. Louise Richardson, Principal of the University of Oxford, who presented a fascinating paper on education and terrorism. She said that although it is tempting to see education as an antidote to terrorism, the reality is not that simple, citing several prominent terrorists who were qualified professionals with a third-level education. She discussed the theory of “relative deprivation”, suggesting that this can affect radicals in poorer countries. Prof. Richardson emphasised the importance of encouraging students to think critically, act ethically and have empathy with others.

She also briefly discussed access to education, presenting the sobering statistic that 4 out of 5 children in well-off areas of Dublin will get to University, compared to only 1 of every 7.5 in disadvantaged areas.

This was a theme taken up by the first respondent, Prof. Dympna Devine of UCD, who argued that ineqality in education is a violation of childrens’ moral right, and suggested that there has always been chronic under-investment in education in Ireland, even during the boom. In the Q&A later she suggested that it is “extraordinary” that the private model now dominates early years education in Ireland and that this raises fundamental questions around power. She also drew our attention to UNICEF’s work on child poverty (e.g. see https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/UNICEF_SOWC_2016.pdf).

Second respondent Prof. Fionnuala Waldron of St Patricks College (Dublin City University) spoke on education for democracy and climate change education. She suggested that the goverment should focus on funding these issues, rather than some more niche concerns, using this cartoon to illustrate her point.

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Prof. Waldron spoke eloquently on education for democracy: “we must learn to act in solidarity with people who are not like us; to recognise our shared humanity”. She suggested that climate change education currently takes a “rear view mirror” approach, focusing on past policies and whether climate change is happening, rather than considering future scenarios. Education for sustainable development must engage “head, heart and hands” (e.g. see http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/14676370810842193).

Prof. Willie Donnelly of Waterford IT then focused on University partnerships with industry. He cited the internet as a notable challenge to education in the 21st Century, suggested that it is jeopardising our critical thinking. He also commented in the Q&A later that Irish Universities need more encouragement from the government on multi-disciplinary work. The final respondent was Dr Niamh Hourigan of University College Cork, who suggested that the big challenge for Universities is to “be the critique of neo-liberalism”.

The last word was left to Louise Richardson, who suggested in response to a question from the audience that Universities perhaps need to separate themselves more from industry than they have. We need to remember that:

“The purpose of a University is to create cultivated human beings, not simply supplying a skilled workforce”.

Politics

The closing plenary of the conference was a discussion on “Political Futures and New Paradigms”, featuring Prof. Brendan O’Leary of the University of Pennsylvania. Prof. O’Leary began his talk by highlighting the “Ireland 2116” map below, pointing out that if climate change continues at current rates both Galway and Dublin will be under water in 100 years.

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Ireland 2116: the title slide for Prof. O’Leary’s talk

He then identified a number of current political “megatrends”, stressing that Ireland is not immune from these trends:

  • De-democratization
  • Power of the rich
  • Purchase of the media and the judiciary
  • Erosion of social democratic parties
  • Estrangement from political parties in general
  • Xenophobia
  • Neoliberalism and its discontents

Prof. O’Leary went on to discuss the currently “unsteady equilibrium” of the EU, particularly in the context of Brexit. He used these cartoons to illustrate how Brexit has been perceived around Europe.

Image result for tom janssen brexit Image result for gatis sluka british pound                         by Tom Janssen (Netherlands)                                         by Gatis Sluka (Latvia)

He then discussed the various soft and hard UKEXIT options, with the help of the following slide [apologies for the very poor quality photo].

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UK-exit options, as presented by Prof. O’Leary

He has proposed his own UKEXIT option, “Dalriada”, where Scotland and Northern Ireland remain part of the EU. Details here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2016/06/27/de-toxifying-the-uks-eu-exit-process-a-multi-national-compromise-is-possible/.

Prof. O’Leary also discussed the possbility of a united Ireland, suggested that there is a Northern Irish case for unification in terms of economic benefit. This point was taken up by the first respondent, Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh of NUIG, who pointed to the results of a RTE/BBC NI survey on unification which suggested that the majority of respondents are “open to debate, discussion and persuasion”. Dr Ó Dochartaigh discussed the nature of democracy in light of recent political events. He suggested that “democracy is about debate and change, not about stasis”, encouraging us to remember that politics is about challenging the majority: “it is not in our power to keep things the way they are. We need to respond to changes in imaginative ways”.

The final respondent was Prof. Jennifer Todd of UCD, who argued that in fact Dalriada could be more radical. She noted in her talk that “identity politics doesn’t work” and suggested that politics hasn’t taken this into account. For further reading on the topic, check out this article on identity politics and the US election: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-identity-politics-couldnt-clinch-a-clinton-win/2016/11/11/ed3bf966-a773-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html

*For more into on climate change and trade, here’s a couple of references:

https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/abstract_trade_climate_change_e.pdf

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDRS/Resources/477365-1327504426766/8389626-1327510418796/Focus-C.pdf

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CSEAR Ireland 2016

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Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick

Last month the CSEAR Ireland conference was held at the University of Limerick, bringing together social and environmental accounting scholars from all over the world. CSEAR is the Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research, based at the University of St Andrews, Scotland (https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/csear/). The first annual CSEAR Summer School, which is now usually hosted by St Andrews, was held in 1990 and conferences around the world have sprung up since – North America, Australia, South America, Spain, China – and for the first time this year, Ireland.

The theme of the conference was “Public Interest and the Common Good”, which proved a catalyst for some great discussions on the purpose of accounting and why accountability, and social and environmental accounting research, matters (or not?)

Plenary

Much of that debate occured in Thursdays’ plenary on “Accountability and the Public Interest” featuring keynotes from Prof. Jesse Dillard, University of Florida and Dr. Mary Canning of University College Dublin. Speaking first, Mary Canning discussed how we define “public interest” and the “common good”, citing among others Cochran (1974) and Willmott (1990) (see references below). She used the work of Dellaportas and Davenport (2008) to explain that the accounting profession has moved to the “abolitionist” perspective on public interest, which in fact privileges the pursuit of self-interest. Mary closed with a number of thought-provoking research questions for accounting scholars.

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Mary Canning’s suggestions for further research

Jesse Dillard spoke next in interactive style, encouraging audience participation from the start and turning the plenary into a lively debate. He suggested that it is the responsibility of academics to act as conscience, critic and counselor to business and the accounting profession, partcipating in and perhaps influencing the public discourse on accounting. He observed that “we are creating a whole new discipline called accountability”, but questioned whether the term is an open signifier or a vacuous one. Jesse suggested that we need to clarify the meaning of accountability and work on “building a conceptual infrastructure around accountability”, and perhaps his framework below is a useful place to start.

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Can transparency enable participation? Jesse Dillard’s take on accountability

Jesse then went on to discuss the theory behind accountability. He suggested that it is about trust, or lack thereof: “if I trusted you entirely I wouldn’t need accountability”. Ultimately he encouraged us all to think about why we were there at the conference, why do we care about accountability and why does it matter? We are rationalists, he argued, with a faith that human beings will make rational decisions. Therefore we call for accountability and transparency in the belief that those accounted to e.g. the public, regulators, will act on the information then provided e.g. boycott or impose penalties on companies.

Other sessions

Apart from the plenary, some excellent papers were presented throughout the day, and a few are summarised here, with apologies to the authors whose sessions I didn’t manage to attend.

Earlier on Jesse Dillard presented a paper on accounting and accountability in a fascinating organisation – a cattle ranchers co-op in Colorado (http://www.countrynaturalbeef.com/). Himself and co-author Madeline Pullman posed a number of intriguing research questions:

  • Can a commercial enterprise survive in the long run with its primary objective being something other than maximising shareholder value?
  • What would that organisation look like?
  • What types of accounting systems would be facilitative?
  • Is the economic result the means or the end?

The key objective of this organisation, rather than maximising shareholder value, is to keep the next generation on the ranch. He suggested that the organisation has developed its own management and accounting system based around supporting its key objective, and that this is what enables the organisation to survive.

Matthew Scobie from the University of Sheffield looked at accountability in the deep sea oil exploration industry in New Zealand, drawing on a range of interviews with actors in the accountability arena, including local activists. He suggested that there were many different “accounts” within the arena, it was in fact “overwhelmed” by accounts. For example, the protests of the activists were informal systems of accountability. However, there were few expectations of accountability – people didn’t trust the organisations involved and expected the government to look after the country’s natural resources. The paper promises to be an interesting read once it is published. Also useful to note is the paper on accountability in football by Cooper and Johnston (2012), which Matthew drew on for his theory development.

All the way from the University of Florida, Dennis Huber explored the conceptual framework around the “public interest”, focusing on its treatment by the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). He highlighted that the FASB definitions of financial statement users do not mention the public. The mission of FASB and the SEC, he argued, is to protect the market, not the public interest.

Brigitte de Graff, Vrije University, Amsterdam, presented an interesting paper where she used the literature on management fashions, including Abrahamson (1996), to ask if integrated reporting  (iirc.com) is a management fad. She found that integrated reporting does fit the management fashion trends, and noted that natural and manufactured capital is not mentioned at all in IR, making it an incomplete framework. Her paper led to a thoughtful discussion, with one audience member suggesting drily that if integrated reporting is fashionable maybe that’s a good thing because it may disappear soon. See Thomson (2015) for a further critique of IR.

On Thursday afternoon Markus Milne, Professor of Accounting at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, presented his beautifully-titled paper co-authored with Rob Gray: “The Unbelievable in Pursuit of the Inconceivable: Empiricism and the Social Construction of Corporate Environmental Performance”. Key to this paper was a critique of what the authors called the “over simplification” of measures of corporate environmental performance (CEP) in large quantitative studies. He argued that all of the different measures used are to do with the firm, not the environment; “this is a narrative about the organisation not about ecology” and “ecology is partitioned off because it’s too hard”.

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Markus Milne explores Corporate Environmental Performance measures in the literature

Per Milne and Gray’s thesis, these measures take on too much significance and become reified, they “become the thing”, when in reality the issues from an ecological perspective are so complex that it is “inconceivable that we could track effects back to causes”. During the presentation Markus also drew our attention to a number of related books, for future reference:

Image result for Tom's river book                               Image result for our stolen future

The final paper of the day came from conference organisers Sheila Killian and Philip O’Regan of UL, who presented their fascinating early stage case study on accountability in the Makana township in South Africa. In response to water problems, a company, MobiSAM, has set up a “Social Accountability Monitor” (http://www.blog.mobisam.net/) which residents can use to report water problems. Citing the work of Cooper and Owen (2007), Killian and O’Regan suggested that this changes the way people can engage with accountability process; they can be more empowered actors. However, they have not yet decided on the answer to their research question: “is accountability being created at all?” Jesse Dillard might call that an appropriate way to close the day.

Links to in-text references

Abrahamson (1996) – http://amr.aom.org/content/21/1/254.short

Cochran (1974) – https://www.jstor.org/stable/2129473?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Cooper and Johnston (2012) – http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/09513571211225060

Cooper and Owen (2007) – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361368207000219

Dellaportas and Davenport (2008) – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045235407000706

Munzio et al (2016) – http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/44207774/Muzio_Faulconbridge_Gabbioneta_Greenwood_final_onlinbe_version.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1478853201&Signature=4rT35mBBRdTyDIjDsX2vzEUx1Bk%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DBAD_APPLES_BAD_BARRELS_AND_BAD_CELLARS_A.pdf

Thomson (2015) – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045235414000756

Willmott (1990) – http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-349-09786-9_16

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