Corporate biodiversity accounting and reporting in mega-diverse countries: An examination of indicators disclosed in sustainability reports

Antonis Skouloudis*, Chrisovalantis Malesios, Panayiotis G. Dimitrakopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Ongoing biodiversity decline threatens ecosystem stability and reflects an overarching planetary boundary being breached. It undermines enabling conditions for sustainable development and posits alarming risks to the global economy. All business entities are dependent to biological diversity and the planetary spectrum of ecosystem services either directly or indirectly and there is a strong debate on why and how the private sector can effectively contribute to ecologically sustainable societies. In this context, corporate biodiversity accounting and reporting seeks to capture information relevant to biodiversity management by employing a certain set of comprehensive, valid and credible quantitative as well as qualitative indicators. This paper seeks to contribute to this direction by providing a critical evaluation of what business entities of mega-diverse countries report on biodiversity conservation and management through widely-accepted performance metrics disclosed in their sustainability reports along with underlying determinants. The assessment relies on a composite disclosure index devised to investigate the comprehensiveness of reported performance on biodiversity management and conservation. By employing Poisson and Gaussian Bayesian regression modeling, potential associations of biodiversity indicators with national specificity, organizational size and industrial affiliation are examined. Crucially, the constructive role of biodiversity accounting and reporting in communicating performance and discharging accountability towards relevant stakeholders is investigated, under the scope of an ecologically sustainable society. Most important predictors of biodiversity indicators disclosure pertain to spatial characteristics (i.e. country effects), along with the industry affiliation of the organizations. In contrast, organizational size does not seem to have a significant effect on the disclosure of biodiversity indicators. In particular, Brazilian, Bolivian and Malaysian enterprises exhibit the highest disclosure levels in biodiversity indicators, whereas the lowest levels are observed for those from Philippines. In terms of differences according to the business sector the sample reporters pertain to, we find biodiversity indicators are mostly reported by enterprises of the materials, energy, industrials, consumer staples and utilities sectors. Comparatively lowest levels are observed for the health care and information technology sectors. Considerable variation among companies, sectors, countries as well as individual indicators is evident. The analysis derived from the study suggests that performance indicators of biological diversity, as part the firm's broader management accounting system, are still underreported and in most cases confined to generic and/or vague statements, with quantitative data and narratives on managing biodiversity being sporadic and limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)888-901
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume98
Early online date7 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Biodiversity indicators
  • Corporate biodiversity disclosure
  • Disclosure index
  • Mega-diverse countries
  • Sustainability accounting and reporting

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