Accounting systems are often perceived as simple tools, at best neutral, at worst exclusively at the service of our current economic model and its financial logic. From this point of view, the use of the term “accounting” applied to ecosystems is often assimilated to the approaches to the monetisation of biodiversity or even the commodification of nature.
The “ecosystem-centric accounting” research project opens up a different perspective, based on a broader understanding of the notion of accounting and taking the preservation of ecosystems as its goal.
Since at least antiquity, societies have developed accounting systems to cope with the increasing complexity of human activities. By fulfilling fundamental anthropological functions, such as the capacity to make commitments and assign responsibilities, to ask for and render accounts over extended spatial and temporal distances, or to provide shared value frames of reference, accounting systems in their plurality have shaped the ways in which societies are organised.
Facing current ecological challenges, “ecosystem-centred accounting” research aims at founding theoretically, designing and experimenting with new accounting systems that support public and private stakeholders in their efforts to collectively organise at the ecosystems management scale in order to achieve results in terms of good ecological status. Ecosystems are understood here as situated objects of shared responsibilities (a given lagoon, a given forest, the habitat of a given species, etc.).
In other words, rather than seeking to translate the value of nature into economic language, it is a question of proposing new accounting frameworks welcoming a diversity of information (ecological, social, economic, budgetary, etc.) and useful for reorganising collective relations and activities to address ecological concerns. In so doing, these new accounting systems can participate in the general redefinition of the values sought in society.
Below you will find some information on the different stages of this research programme so far. For more information, see the Publications page as well as some filmed interventions and other media. The development of ecosystem-centric management accounting is one of the three scientific axes of the Ecological Accounting Chair.