Skip to main content

PROFIT AND PRINCIPLES – FINDING A BALANCE WITH THE TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE

Buy Article:

$17.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Or sign up for a free trial

Local Government Authorities (LGA's) throughout Australia have or are in the process of reforming their water operations. For many, this means operating on a more commercial basis, with a progressively greater emphasis on the financial performance of utility services. In many cases, these changes have led to a significant increase in the commercial performance of these businesses to the benefit of both the LGA and the broader community.

However, given the nature of the urban water industry and its central importance in maintaining living standards and addressing environmental issues, progressive managers are beginning to ask the question; “is the dollar the single or even best measure of “success” in the management of our water services?” Addressing this question is one of the issues at the forefront of development of the water industry.

Traditional information disclosures and measurements of performance for water utilities have been focussed on external financial reporting whereby prescriptive rules and regulations abound. However, when it comes to social and environmental disclosures, there is no universally accepted approach. Indeed, how do we measure “social” and “environmental” benefit in an objective manner?

Measuring the financial viability is comparatively easy. There are many well established tools and prescriptive rules for measuring the commercial “health” of a business's operations. This is undertaken by skilled financial practitioners.

So, if the financial issues are measured by the financial experts, why shouldn't the environmental issues be measured by the environmental experts and social issues developed by the community (through a reference group or Council)? The environmental and social accountability process can largely be driven by stakeholder identified target and performance. That is, experts in their field can set appropriate targets against which the business's performance can be measured.

This paper outlines how the application of Triple Bottom Line leads to the development of tools to measure the sustainable performance of a business and how they are able to enhance decision making processes and increase accountability to key stakeholders. The techniques used were benchmarked against similar strategies developed by multinationals such as Shell and BHP who recognise that the impact of their businesses go well beyond the commercial profitability of its projects and that the development of a sustainable business needs to take into account these broader issues.

Given the essential and monopolistic nature of the urban water industry, these tools may well provide a mechanism for both managing and reporting the performance of water businesses to ensure that they remain sustainable over the very long term.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Data/Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

More about this publication?
  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

    A subscription to the Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation includes access to most papers presented at the annual WEF Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) and other conferences held since 2000. Subscription access begins 12 months after the event and is valid for 12 months from month of purchase. A subscription to the Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is included in Water Environment Federation (WEF) membership.

    WEF Members: Sign in (right panel) with your IngentaConnect user name and password to receive complimentary access. Access begins 12 months after the conference or event
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • About WEF Proceedings
  • WEFTEC Conference Information
  • Learn about the many other WEF member benefits and join today
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more