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Towards a conceptual framework for non-financial reporting inclusive of pandemic and climate risk reporting

Abhayawansa, S. and Adams, C. A. (2022) 'Towards a conceptual framework for non-financial reporting inclusive of pandemic and climate risk reporting.', Meditari Accountancy Research, 30 (3). pp. 710-738.


Purpose: This paper evaluates non-financial reporting (NFR) frameworks insofar as risk reporting is concerned. This is facilitated through analysis of the adequacy of climate- and pandemic-related risk reporting in three industries that are both significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and at risk from climate change. The pervasiveness of pandemic and climate-change risks have been highlighted in 2020, the hottest year on record and the year the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Stakeholders might reasonably expect reporting on these risks to have prepared them for the consequences. Design/methodology/approach: The current debate on the 'complexity' of sustainability and NFR frameworks/ standards is critically analysed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and calls to 'build back better'. Context is provided through analysis of risk reporting by the ten largest airlines and the five largest companies in each of the hotel and cruise industries. Findings: Risk reporting on two significant issues, pandemics and climate change, is woefully inadequate. While very little consideration has been given to pandemic risks, disclosures on climate-related risks focus predominantly on 'risks' of increased regulation rather than physical risks, indicating a short-term focus. The disclosures are dispersed across different corporate reporting media and fail to appreciate the long-term consequences or offer solutions. Mindful that a conceptual framework for NFR must address this, we propose a new definition of materiality and recommend that sustainable development risks and opportunities be placed at the core of the future framework for connected/integrated reporting. Research implications: In order for sustainable development risks to be perceived as ‘real’ by managers further research is needed to determine the nature and extent of key sustainable development risks and the most effective mitigation strategies. Social implications: Our paper highlights the importance of recognising the complexity of the issues facing organisations, society and the planet and addressing them by encouraging robust consideration of the interdependencies in evolving approaches to corporate reporting. Originality/value: Our study contributes to the current debate on the future of corporate reporting in light of two significant interconnected crises that threaten business and society – the pandemic and climate change. It provides evidence to support a long-term oriented and holistic approach to risk management and reporting.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact
Date accepted:04 June 2021
Date deposited:11 June 2021
Date of first online publication:12 July 2021
Date first made open access:05 January 2022

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