This is a discursive paper which attempts to provide a personal review of current and recent developments in social and environmental reporting with particular emphasis on the attestation and auditing implications. The paper takes the essential desirability of social, environmental and sustainability reporting as a crucial element in any well‐functioning democracy as a given. It further assumes that any civilised, but complex, society with pretensions to social justice, that seeks a potentially sustainable future and which wishes to try and rediscover some less exploitative and less insulated relationship with the natural environment, needs social and environmental reporting as one component in redirecting its social and economic organisation. With reporting being such a central issue, the paper further takes good quality attestation of that information as essential to both its reliability and its ability to fulfill its required role in developing transparency and accountability. The paper has three motifs: the need to clarify terminology in the field of social and environmental ‘audits’; the current weakness of attestation practices in the area; and the significant — but unfulfilled — promise offered by professional accounting and auditing education and training. The paper concludes with a call for a substantial re‐think of accounting education and training.
International Journal of Auditing – Wiley
Published: Nov 1, 2000
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