Economic “development” involves processes that often jointly produce both goods and “bads” — economic, environmental and social. The bads, however, are often technologically invisible; not least in terms of the way decisions are informed and accounted for. This paper takes as its case study a major development proposal that had the potential to produce economic, environmental, and social goods and bads. The paper involves an exploration of official independent reports leading to the proposal, considering the various factors taken into the decision, how the processes were reported on and accounted for. In particular, the treatment of financial/economic factors is examined and compared and contrasted with the treatment of social/environmental factors. From this, the paper considers possibilities for financial, social and environmental accounting in public discourse and decision making. In particular, the use of accounting to create environmental and social visibilities, and to facilitate discourse and debate, is examined.
- Environmental audit
- Environmental impact assessment
- Public sector
- Social accounting