Chapter 4

Accounting for Sustainability:Measuring Quantities orEnhancing Qualities?

Julie Richardson

Introduction

The triple bottom line (TBL) concept coined by John Elkington and now common currency recognizes that corporations not only add economic value (hopefully), but also impact on social and environmental value added. These concepts correspond to the three pillars of sustainable development, which have often been interpreted by economists as economic, social and environmental capitals.1

For the purposes of this chapter, I use the simplest three-capital model to explore how corporations might account for their contributions to value added across the triple bottom line. Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘how to do it’ manual for triple ...

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