Sustainability: The adoption of green economy and sustainable accounting principles by South African listed companies and lessons learnt




Green economy, Sustainable accounting, JSE listed companies, Environmental degradation, United Nations, Global community


The globe is facing challenges such as wars, poverty, injustice, environmental degradation, inequality, and climate change. These challenges have unsettled man in his habitation on the globe thereby prompting the United Nations to engage all nations to unite in addressing these global challenges. The interaction of the United Nations with the global community led to the understanding that eradicating poverty must be coupled with strategies that promote economic growth whilst addressing a myriad of social needs as well as climate change and environmental issues. Amongst the strategies to tackle the global challenges indicated above are sustainable accounting and the green economy. As members of the global community, South African listed companies also have a role to play in combating sustainability challenges. This paper contributes to the literature on sustainability, particularly on the adoption of the green economy and sustainable accounting by listed companies in the South African context as well as lessons learned in the process.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Varaidzo Denhere, University of Johannesburg

Dr., College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Gold Fields. (2019). Climate change report.

Green Economy Coalition (GEC). (2020). The 5 Principles of Green Economy: Exploring what a green and fair economy looks like in principle - and in practice

Haddaway, N. R., Cooke, S. J., Lesser, P., Macura, B., Nilsson, A. E., Taylor, J. J. & Raito, K. (2019). Evidence of the impacts of metal mining and the effectiveness of mining mitigation measures on social–ecological systems in Arctic and boreal regions: a systematic map protocol. Environmental Evidence, 8, 9.

International Energy Agency (IEA). (2015). Accelerating Energy Efficiency in Small and Mediumsized Enterprises.

International Framework (IR) (2021). Integrated Reporting.

IoDSA. Institute of Directors in Southern Africa. (2009). King Code on Corporate Governance for South Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: IoDSA.

Jizi, M. (2017). The Influence of Board Composition on Sustainable Development Disclosure. Business Strategy and the Environment, 26,640–655.

Johannesburg Stock Exchange. (2019). Our sphere of control and influence.

Johannesburg Stock Exchange. (2022). Sustainability.

JSE (2022). FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index Series.

JSE. (2010). Listing requirements section 13. Johannesburg, South Africa: JSE.

Keddie, L. (2021). What is sustainability accounting? What does ESG mean? We have answers.

Kiron, D., Unruh, G., Kruschwitz, N., Reeves, M., Rubel, H. & Felde, A. M. Z. (2017). Corporate Sustainability at a Crossroads.

Kitsikopoulos, C., Schwaibold, U. & Taylor, D. (2018). Limited progress in sustainable development: Factors influencing the environmental management and reporting of South African JSE-listed companies. Business Strategy and the Environment, 27(8), 1295-1301.

Kraaijenbrink, J. (2019). What the 3Ps of the triple bottom line really mean.

Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. (2019). Integrated report.

Lariviere, B. & Smit, E. G. (2022). People–planet–profits for a sustainable world: Integrating the triple-P idea in the marketing strategy, implementation and evaluation of service firms. Journal of Service Management, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print).

Levy, D., Brown, H. S. & de Jong, W. M. M. (2010). The Contested Politics of Corporate Governance: The Case of the Global Reporting Initiative. Business & Society, 49(1), 88-115.

Lozano, R. (2013). Are Companies Planning their Organisational Changes for Corporate Sustainability? An Analysis of Three Case Studies on Resistance to Change and their Strategies to Overcome it. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 20(5), 275-295.

Montmasson-Clair, G. (2015). The Interplay between Mining and Green Economy in South Africa: An Energy Lens. Master’s Thesis, Universite Pierre Mendes, France. or

Mowzer, S. (2011). South Africa’s Green Economy Accord.

Nhamo, G. & Pophiwa, N. (2014). “Business in the Green Global Economy.” In Breakthrough: Corporate South Africa in a Green Economy, Godwell Nhamo Ed, 3–22. Africa Institute of South Africa.

Ozili, P. K. (2021). Sustainability accounting. SSRN Electronic Journal. or

Riillo, C. A. F. (2017). Beyond the question “Does it pay to be green?”: How much green? and when? Journal of Clean Production, 141, 626–640

Roberts, L. G. (2017). Integrated Reporting: The South African Experience. The CPA Journal. Available from:

Sasol. (2019). Integrated report.

Schaltegger, S. & Burritt, R. L. (2010). Sustainability accounting for companies: Catchphrase or decision support for business leaders? Journal of World Business, 45(4), 375-384.

Sibanye Stillwater Limited. (2019). Integrated report. Minimising our environmental impact.

Söderholm, P. (2020). The green economy transition: the challenges of technological change for sustainability. Sustain Earth, 3(6), 1-11.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). (2015). The Challenges of Assuring Integrated Reports: Views from the South African Auditing Community.

Thomson, I. (2007). Mapping the terrain of sustainability accounting. In J. Unerman, J. Bebbington, & B. O’Dwyer (Eds.), Sustainability accounting and accountability (pp. 19–37). London and New York: Routledge.

UN Environment Programme. (2022). Corporate sustainability reporting.,all%20dimensions%20of%20sustainable%20development%2C.

UNESCO. (2021). Sustainable Development.

United Nations Climate Change. (2022). What is the Kyoto Protocol?

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (2022). Green Economy.,of%20biodiversity%20and%20ecosystem%20services.

United Nations Environmental Programme. (2011). Green Economy.

United Nations. (2019). Green Economy.,Markandya%20and%20Barbier%2C%201989.

United Nations. (2020). The Sustainable Development Agenda.

United Nations. (2022). Green Economy.

United Nations. (n.d.). Green Economy.

Value today. (2022). South Africa Top Companies List by Market Cap as on Jan 7th, 2022.

van der Lingen, E. (2020). A Mindset for Sustainability – Five Accounting Principles for Successful Reporting.




How to Cite

Denhere, V. (2022). Sustainability: The adoption of green economy and sustainable accounting principles by South African listed companies and lessons learnt. International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science (2147- 4478), 11(5), 366–376.



Accounting Ecosystem and Tax Management