Justin Zhu

PhD Student

Email: justin.zhu@aut.ac.nz

Research Areas:

Social accounting and environmental accountability and reporting

Research Summary:

Water has always been considered as one of the most significant issues for several reasons. Firstly, water is widely regarded as a natural resource that nourishes all life-forms on earth. It serves as one of the most essential elements to sustain our eco-system and to support human life and prosperity. Nevertheless, as a gift of nature, water is a finite resource. Secondly, water has become a perplexing and pertinent issue. This is because issues related to water not merely appear to be an environmental problem but also exist as a social concern. Hence, accountability for water scarcity and water pollution represent an issue of mutual concern arising from both social and environmental dimensions. Global demand on freshwater sources has reached unprecedented levels, and the availability of freshwater has rapidly become one of the most pressing social concerns. As well as the scarcity of water, water quality remains another concern to arise from an environmental perspective. Prior literature highlights that approximately 80 per cent of the world’s population has been exposed to a high-level threat of water security. Consequently, the reliability and availability of useable water resources associated with water scarcity and pollution, are posing threats not only to the public and the ecological environment, but also to the business sector.

Water is indeed a significant social and environmental concern, but it is also a vital resource for corporations. From a business perspective, it is evident that corporations across almost all sectors are dependent on freshwater for their ongoing survival. In this case, water is a crucial part of natural capital and is one of the prominent elements that has been utilized as a substantial input for many companies to enhance industrial processes and uphold business activities. Recent studies have found that the private corporate sector is one of the largest freshwater users in modern society and is regarded as the most influential contributor to water pollution. Moreover, business entities have been frequently found to be wasteful in regards to water management and treating water as a free commodity as opposed to a valued asset and a resource to be managed with care. Consequently, water is no longer an issue of minor importance, it is now a matter of survival!

The objective of my study is to explore corporate water accounting and accountability by major listed Chinese companies. My research has two specific goals: firstly, this research aims to explore the current status of corporate water disclosure in terms of content and quality, along with the motivation behind corporate water disclosure; secondly, it will explore stakeholder expectations and perceptions regarding water-related information disclosure by Chinese companies.

Current Research Projects:

Corporate accounting and accountability for water in a Chinese context.