Counting the cost – pioneer of environmental accounting recognised
University of Canterbury 2021 Research Medal winner, UC Business School Professor Markus Milne, began researching ways to account for the social and environmental impacts of business some 30 years ago, when the field was very new.
“I don’t think anybody in the late 1980s envisaged how corporate practice might develop towards environmental accountability,” he says. “It was even thought to be a fad. While reporting frameworks have emerged, questions remain over the level of genuine accountability they deliver.”
As awareness of climate change and human impacts on our planet’s ecosystems increases, particularly in the wake of the United Nation’s COP26 conference, the importance of Professor Milne’s work has gained recognition internationally.
He arrived in Dunedin from Lancaster in 1988 and met visiting Professor David Owen, co-author of a new book Corporate Social Reporting: Accounting and Accountability. “I realised I could take the kinship I felt for nature, animals, and wilderness and align it with my professional world,” he says.
The late Emeritus Professor Rob Gray, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, was his other influential mentor. He encouraged Professor Milne to write his first academic article for a special “green accounting” issue of a journal he was editing.