30th CSEAR International Congress – Day 3

This morning is the last breakfast in the halls, and I would like to thank the catering service who were so helpful catering to my vegan taste, always friendly and chatty  – you were a significant part of these enjoyable 4 days.

In the first morning session, Tom Cuckston shares with us his latest research on the sustainability of golf courses.

The golf industry has historically had a reputation for being environmentally damaging especially due to habitat destruction, over-use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, and over-use of water resources.

Tom Cuckston illustrating the heavy management of nature at a golf course

GEO (sustainability certification for gold courses) certification is described as golf’s eco-label aiming to help golf be recognize as a leader in sustainable sport and business. Examining golf affords the opportunity to investiagte how GEO certification constructs the notion of a sustainable golf course.

This certification system has three dimensions: nature (focusing on naturalisation, conservation, and turf grass management), resources (eco-efficiency aspects of sustainability, use of water and material) and community (customer well-being). The way in which nature is talked reveals a dominant indeology in which humans, always in control, try to manage and replace nature.


If they’re happy do we know it? Accounting for Farm Animal Welfare by Josie McLaren.

More than 65 billion farm animals are killed annually. Livestock is the world’s largest used of land resources and is one of the highest GHG emitting industries. While there is a lot of pressure for intensification of farming, there is also increasing pressure on the welfare of farm animals. A massive EU survey in 2016 shows 97% percent of respondants believe it is important to care about animal welfare.


The concept of animal welfare is problematic because it is (1) defined by humans (2) subjective – it’s dependent on ethical beliefs and judgment, and (3) there is difficulty over measurement and definition. Each animal is different – how do you know if an animal is afraid and suffering?

Non-human animals are under-represented in the accounitng literature. Josie’s research proposes to investigate accounting and accountability for farm animal welfare by food companies. Looking at two NGOs one of which is BBFAW  – the Business Benchmark on Animal Welfare, who aim to raise standards of farm animal welfare in global food companies.

BBFAW represent an attempt to capture the complexities of measuring farm animal welfare. Some of the research questions focus on whether this is an appropriate measure on behalf of BBFAW and whether this reporting and ranking makes a difference. Is there any impact within the organisation in terms of its behaviour and practices?

Josie found that there are real cosequences for the reporting, forming the basis for assessing new suppliers, where targets have been set. This research attempts to give a voice to animals in accounting and accountability, disrupting organisational fields through disclosre rather than regulation.

A few questions I am left wondering, however, is what kind of a disruption can we see? Have companies stopped killing animals following the BBFAW accreditation? I hope, however, that BBFAW does bring into focus a discussion of the myth of humane slaughter.


So with the conference coming to a close, I would like to thank all of those who made me feel so welcome in the community. It has been such an excellent experience, meeting new friends and sharing knowledge. It is evidence of the power of accounting as emancipatory indeed.

Until next year!





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