Sustainability Reporting by Local Councils in Coastal Regions: An Australian Study
The phrase social and environmental accounting research appears to have been superseded by the term sustainability reporting (SR). The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) which is an internationally recognised reporting framework has developed sustainability reporting guidelines for specific industries including for the public sector. The objective of this investigation is to ascertain the type of sustainability reporting practices in six Local Councils located on the Australian coast line. A sustainability reporting disclosure index is developed and is calculated by comparing the disclosures provided by the Global Reporting Initiative with the annual reports of the six coastal councils. The findings suggest that these councils provide high disclosures for the categories of water and biodiversity and low disclosures for the categories of compliance and overall which records total environmental expenditures by type. Given that the reporting of sustainability practices by local councils is relatively new, it is expected that disclosures will increase over time. In addition, specialised sustainability reports are starting to be produced by local councils in addition to the statutory obligation of producing an annual report.
Keywords: Sustainability Reporting, Local Councils, Annual Reports
JEL classifications: M41, M40 and M49
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