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Essential environmental impact variables: A means for transparent corporate sustainabilityreporting aligned with planetary boundaries
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8756-1649
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden; Sustainable Finance Lab Sweden, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1617-4067
2024 (English)In: One Earth, ISSN 2590-3330, E-ISSN 2590-3322, Vol. 7, no 2, p. 211-225Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite numerous pledges to the contrary, corporate activities are inflicting environmental harm and are pushing the Earth system toward and beyond planetary boundaries. Several sustainability accounting frameworks exist, designed to track corporate environmental impacts through corporate reporting, and there is currently a push toward standardization of these. However, most sustainability accounting frameworks still fail to fully capture the connections between corporate activities and impacts, as they depart from what is important for the companies (materiality assessments) and often rely on relative metrics. Here, we propose 15 essential environmental impact variables (EEIVs), applicable to all sectors, based on absolute metrics and what is essential for staying within the planetary boundaries. We argue that standardization must rather depart from these underlying premises. By designing EEIVs for seven primary industries with large environmental footprints and demonstrating the operationality via the aquaculture sector, we show how EEIVs efficiently identify the most important corporate impact information while increasing transparency between companies and stakeholders, thus enabling external assessment of corporate sustainability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2024. Vol. 7, no 2, p. 211-225
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-228292DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2024.01.014ISI: 001187967500001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85185220331OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-228292DiVA, id: diva2:1850694
Available from: 2024-04-11 Created: 2024-04-11 Last updated: 2024-04-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Sustainability Risk: A social-ecological systems perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sustainability Risk: A social-ecological systems perspective
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today’s world is characterised by new levels of complexity; however our societies remain deeply embedded in and dependent on a functioning biosphere. A biosphere that is increasingly being degraded by human activities. In this complex and intertwined world, acute shocks as well as chronic pressures of unsustainable activities have therefore become a prevalent feature. Together these shocks and chronic pressures create a complex risk landscape that we need to navigate with inter- and transdisciplinary solutions. However, the study of risk and the risk assessment tools in use, are siloed into scholarly disciplines and mismatched with the complexity at hand. In this thesis I tackle this mismatch, by using a social-ecological systems perspective and a variety of methodological approaches. Together the four papers of the thesis develop the interdisciplinary concept of sustainability risk and start to operationalise it through the application to national food systems and corporate sustainability risk assessment. Paper I introduces the concept of sustainability risk that I use and develop through-out the thesis. The paper also summarises some of the key definitions of risk within different disciplines and proposes five key dimensions that need to be adapted and developed in order for the existing risk assessment methods to fully capture risks in a complex world. Papers II-IV all represent applications of the concept of sustainability risk to different contexts. Paper II addresses national food supply risks and highlights how diverse risks to national self-sufficiency can come from low self-sufficiency (resulting in risk from trade disruptions) and low production diversity (resulting in risk from production shocks). Paper III addresses the data limitations we encounter when attempting to assess corporate sustainability risk and aims to overcome some of these limitations by developing fifteen novel reporting variables. These variables also contribute to the ongoing efforts to standardise corporate sustainability reporting. Paper IV builds on Paper III and develops an initial framework for assessing the risks to long-term natural resource production emanating from the impacts of corporate activities, thus broadening the conceptualisation of what risk is and how we assess it in the corporate sphere. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2024. p. 51
Keywords
Sustainability risk, systemic risk, complex systems, social-ecological systems, corporate sustainability reporting, food security, resilience
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-228761 (URN)978-91-8014-815-3 (ISBN)978-91-8014-816-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-06-14, hörsal 4, hus 2, Albano, Albanovägen 18 and online via Zoom, public link is available at the department website, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-05-22 Created: 2024-04-25 Last updated: 2024-05-13Bibliographically approved

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Wassénius, EmmyCrona, Beatrice

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