Cost accounting – recognized pioneer in environmental accounting


The 2021 University of Canterbury Research Medal winner Professor Markus Milne of UC Business School began researching ways to consider the social and environmental impacts of businesses around 30 years ago, when the domain was very new.

Professor Markus Milne of UC Business School is a recipient of the University of Canterbury’s 2021 Research Medal for his work on the social and environmental impacts of businesses.

He is known today as an international pioneer in social and environmental accounting (SEA). SEA uses a variety of methods to measure the impacts of organizational resource use and social and environmental consequences, as well as economic benefits.

“I don’t think anyone in the late 1980s considered how corporate practice could evolve into environmental responsibility,” he says. “We even thought it was a fad. As reporting frameworks have emerged, questions remain about the level of true accountability they offer. “

As awareness of climate change and human impacts on our planet’s ecosystems increases, particularly following the United Nations COP26 conference, the importance of Professor Milne’s work is increasingly recognized at internationally.

He arrived in Dunedin from Lancaster in 1988 and met Professor David Owen, co-author of a new book Corporate Social Reporting: Accounting and Accountability. “I realized that I could take the kinship I felt for nature, animals and the wilderness and align it with my professional world,” he says.

The late Professor Emeritus Rob Gray of 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 issue on “green accounting” of a journal he edited.

Since then, Professor Milne’s research has spanned over 100 academic journal articles, professional and community contributions, book chapters, and guest editions for thematic journal issues – making Professor Milne Aotearoa the leading accounting scholar. most cited from New Zealand.

He received three impressive grants from the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand valued at $ 1.6 million.

University of Canterbury Assistant Vice Chancellor Research Professor Ian Wright says Professor Milne’s research has consistently underscored the importance of sustainability in business.

“Professor Milne preaches the word. He takes his sustainability students on a field trip to connect with Canterbury’s incredible natural environment and gives them a real insight into the need for businessmen to have social and environmental awareness.

Trampling and climbing in the wild has indeed been a motivating force for Professor Milne over the years.

“Apart from an obvious adoration and fear for the natural world that is built by immersing itself in it for days on end, I think the thing you learn the most from multi-day trips is that you have to take everything with you. what you need and nothing you don’t do. It disciplines your thoughts and behaviors on the essentials and on how you can be happy and fulfilled with very few possessions, ”he says.

“I think frugality and simplicity overflow into everyday life and this is essential for humanity to behave in a sustainable way. It teaches you humility. Sometimes the consequences for survival of not adapting to the conditions of nature are too bleak and obvious. It’s a lesson as a species that we seem reluctant to learn. “

As he nears the end of his career, Professor Milne does not hesitate to express the need for companies to be more authentic, transparent and responsible in the measurement of their carbon emissions and their environmental and social costs.

“We have to somehow transform into a post-consumer, post-materialistic existence,” he says.

“In Western democracies like Aotearoa in New Zealand, we operate with a light regulatory touch, which certainly reduces compliance costs and other frictions for businesses, but it also extends the latitudes that require considerable trust. I think that companies must adopt a real ethic of responsibility.

Double Winning Covid Modelers

University of Canterbury Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Alex James and Professor Michael Plank, who have used their expertise to create a series of mathematical models informing the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, have been doubly successful. UC 2021 Research Medal winners alongside Professor Milne.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Rua Murray won the University of Canterbury Teaching Medal. UC Medal winners, along with UC Teaching Awards and Early and Emerging Career Awards recipients, will receive their awards at Pō Whakamānawa, a ceremony celebrating excellence, on Wednesday, November 24.

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