Digital technologies and sustainability accounting, reporting, and assurance 



This Special Issue examines the impact of contemporary digital technologies, such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain and cryptocurrency, social media communication, cloud computing, and the internet of things (IoTs), to name a few, on sustainability accounting, reporting, and assurance. Such technologies are profoundly impacting the world we live in (De Villiers, Kuruppu and Dissanayake, 2021). The constant flow of innovative technologies is driving disruptive transformations across all aspects of life. These technological advancements offer considerable promise for enhancing accounting’s capacity to measure, record, analyze, and communicate an increasingly broader range of data and information necessary for supporting sustainability accounting, reporting, and assurance. Blockchain technology, for instance, provides transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain, which is of vital interest to consumers who are concerned with issues such as environmental protection, sustainability, transparency, and social responsibility (Xu et al., 2019; De Villiers et al., 2021).

Despite these major impacts, there remains a dearth of studies in this area. Exceptions include works by Lodhia et al (2020), De Villiers et al. (2021), Tiwari and Khan (2020), Xu et al. (2019), and Burritt and Christ (2016).  Lodhia et al (2020) explored the use of social media for sustainability reporting and highlighted that such new media technologies change the dynamics of reporting. De Villiers et al. (2021) examine the potential of the IoTs to record data and track progress on the UN SGDs. Tiwari and Khan (2020) conduct focus groups and semi-structured interviews with managers in Indian companies. Their study participants were less than optimistic about the transformative potential of contemporary digital technologies. Xu et al. (2019) review the literature on blockchain and identify several avenues for future research. In their reflective study, Burritt and Christ (2016) argue in favor of allocating greater academic effort to understanding these unexplored phenomena.       

Potential issues to consider in this special issue include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • The impact of contemporary digital technologies on sustainability accounting, including:
    • Data collection and analysis
    • Data presentation/visualisation
    • Sustainability accounting controls
    • Sustainability management systems.
  • The impact of contemporary digital technologies on sustainability reporting, including specific stages of the reporting process (Farooq and De Villiers, 2019), such as:
    • Application of sustainability reporting standards/e-taxonomies
    • Materiality assessment and stakeholder engagement
    • Data collection and analysis
    • Presentation of data and information
    • Dissemination of information using new media technologies such as social media
    • Integrating sustainability reporting with core processes including risk management and strategy development.
  • The impact of contemporary digital technologies on sustainability assurance (Zaman, Farooq, Khalid and Mahmood, 2021; Farooq, & De Villiers, 2019; 2020), including:
    • Scope and objectives of the engagement
    • Performance of audit procedures
    • Evaluation of audit evidence 
    • Evaluating underlying systems such as materiality assessment and stakeholder engagement
    • Readability of sustainability assurance reports.


Submission deadline: 28 February 2024 

Expected publication date: mid-2025


Atayah, O.F., Najaf, K., Ali, M.H. and Marashdeh, H., (2023). Sustainability, market performance and FinTech firms. Meditari Accountancy Research. 

Burritt, R.; Christ, K., (2016), Industry 4.0 and environmental accounting: A new revolution? Asian Journal of Sustainability and Social Responsibility. 2016, 1, 23–38.  

Chong, S., Momin, M. and Narayan, A., (2022). A research framework to analyse visual persuasion of photographs in sustainability reports. Meditari Accountancy Research, (ahead-of-print). 

De Villiers, C., Kuruppu, S. & Dissanayake, D. (2021). A (new) role for business - promoting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals through the internet-of-things and blockchain technology, Journal of Business Research, 131, 598-609.  

Dicuonzo, G., Donofrio, F., Ranaldo, S. and Dell'Atti, V., (2022). The effect of innovation on environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. Meditari Accountancy Research, (ahead-of-print). 

Farooq, M.B. & De Villiers, C. (2020), "How sustainability assurance engagement scopes are determined, and its impact on capture and credibility enhancement", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 33(2), 417-445. 

Farooq, M.B. and De Villiers, C. (2019), "The Shaping of Sustainability Assurance through the Competition between Accounting and Non-Accounting Providers", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 32(1), 307-336.  

Lodhia, S, Kaur, A and Stone, G (2020) “The use of social media as a legitimation tool for sustainability reporting: A study of the Top 50 Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) listed companies” Meditari Accountancy research Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 613-632Russo, S., Schimperna, F., Lombardi, R. and Ruggiero, P., 2022. Sustainability performance and social media: An explorative analysis. Meditari Accountancy Research, 30(4), pp.1118-1140. 

Tiwari, K.; Khan, M.S. (2020), Sustainability accounting and reporting in the industry 4.0. Journal of Cleaner Production, 258. 

Vermiglio, C., Noto, G., Rodríguez Bolívar, M.P. and Zarone, V., (2022). Disaster management and emerging technologies: a performance-based perspective. Meditari Accountancy Research, 30(4), pp.1093-1117. 

Xu, M., Chen, X. and Kou, g. (2019). A systematic review of blockchain. Financial Innovation, 5(1), 27. 

Zaman, R., Farooq, M.B., Khalid, F., and Mahmood, Z. (2021), Examining the extent of and determinants for sustainability assurance quality: The role of audit committees. Business Strategy and the Environment, 30(7), 2887-2906.