Conceptions of materiality in sustainability reporting frameworks: Commonalities, differences and possibilities

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Abstract

Over the last twenty years sustainability reporting standards and frameworks have developed and proliferated. In this chapter we provide an overview of a range of the most influential frameworks before focussing upon how they each conceptualise materiality. We do so as we believe that materiality is core to the practice of sustainability reporting. We conclude that materiality remains ambiguous and contested. The sustainability context is complex, and it is, therefore, problematic to seek simple solutions to the questions as to who are the key users and what is the material content for sustainability reporting. This is especially apparent given the interconnected and long-term nature of the sustainability issues that we face. We argue that it is the (stakeholder) accountability purpose, rather than the valuation and stewardship roles, that should be paramount in materiality determination processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Accounting and Sustainability
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Oct 2021

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