Organizing Transnational Accountability

Organizing Transnational Accountability

Edited by Magnus Boström and Christina Garsten

This book adds a multi-disciplinary organizational perspective to the theoretical analysis of political accountability and argues for a broadening of the conventional understanding of the concepts of responsibility and accountability.

Chapter 11: Making it all Publicly Available: Four Challenges to Environmental Disclosure

Sander W.K. van den Burg and Arthur P.J. Mol

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, organisation studies, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental sociology


Sander W.K. van den Burg and Arthur P.J. Mol ACCOUNTABLE THROUGH DISCLOSURE Notions of transparency, corporate responsibility, accountability, and availability of information are increasingly popular in the field of environmental governance. In line with these trends, there is increasing demand for information on the environmental performance of producers and the environmental quality of products. In fulfilling this demand, new information flows are established. They are, it is argued, part and parcel of new modes of accountability, in which corporations are held accountable, not merely to the government, but also to other companies (through ISO-14001 certification, for example), investors (through sustainable investments), consumers (through various labels), or citizens (through sustainability reporting, for example). In this chapter, environmental disclosure is discussed as one mechanism through which accountability can be realized. Although the concept of environmental disclosure can, from a semantic point of view, include very different things, a common definition (and the one used in this chapter) views environmental disclosure as the collection and public dissemination of corporate pollution data through publicly available databases. The archetype of environmental disclosure is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), established in the United States in 1987. The importance of access to information had already been voiced globally at the 1992 Rio Declaration (Art. 10). In the early 1990s, demand for right-to-know and information disclosure grew, and disclosure became codified in the environmental policies of almost all Western industrialized countries. It is now formalized in such national regulations and international agreements as...

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