Handbook of Accounting and Development
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Handbook of Accounting and Development

Edited by Trevor Hopper, Mathew Tsamenyi, Shahzad Uddin and Danture Wickramasinghe

The perspectives of the expert contributors reflect the strong growth of research on the topic, as accounting is increasingly recognised as an important factor in development. The book draws commentary and analyses together to inform future research, practice and policy and raises awareness of the actual and potential role of accounting in formulating and executing development policy.
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Chapter 16: Social and Environmental Accounting in Developing Countries – Challenges, Conflicts and Contradictions

Pala Molisa, Danaa Vandangombo and Judy Brown


Pala Molisa, Danaa Vandangombo and Judy Brown INTRODUCTION The aim of this chapter is to explore why and how environmental degradation is an important issue for developing countries and how, if at all, accounting reforms may ameliorate this. We also seek to emphasize the embeddedness of these issues in social and political relations. In one sense, such an aim is easy to justify. The deteriorating state of our global and local environments has been a major concern in Western societies in recent decades. Although the most widely publicized environmental threat is climate change, public reports from the United Nations and other international organizations make clear that many environmental health indicators show worrying trends pointing toward various forms of ecological crises (see, for example, Stiglitz, 2002; Dryzek and Schlosberg, 2005; Speth, 2008). While the situation is serious in the developed world, it is arguably even starker in developing countries. In the latter context, the countries and peoples in question often do not possess the material infrastructure or the technological resources and funding that enable them to cope as well with environmental crises when compared to more materially well-off societies. In another sense, however, it may be asked why accountants should be involved in addressing social and environmental issues, since they have traditionally only concerned themselves with reporting on the financial situation of business organizations. If this traditional conception is taken for granted, the role of accounting in developing countries seems to be fairly straightforward: simply to do in developing countries what...

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