The effectiveness of environmental performance measures in ensuring sustainable development : The water and agricultural industries highlighted.
Johnston, Andrew R.
If businesses are to contribute to green sustainable development, then a method of measuring progress is essential. Accounting methods need to be used that indicate to the organisation and the general public the businesses progress towards sustainability. Sustainability, by some definitions, refers to the degradation or depletion of natural resources i.e. the direct and indirect environmental effects. For example, consider the effect of pesticides contaminating water. Sustainability would reflect the degradation of the water quality and the disturbance of the waters aquatic eco-system, the damage to aquatic life and the possible human and animal health effects. Consequently, by this definition, sustainability is equivalent to the environmental effects This paper discusses what considerations are required in order to identify environmental performance measures (EPM’s) which reflect the progress towards sustainable development and which measure environmental performance. EPM’s can be used in a wide variety of ways and this is illustrated with respect to two research projects currently being carried out at the University of Hertfordshire. The first, discusses the use of corporate EPM’s with the water industry of England and Wales by examining company environmental reports. The second, uses EPM’s to measure environmental performance and the goal of both business and green sustainability within arable agriculture.