Environment Management and Environmental Disclosures: A Comparison of Corporate Practices across Malaysia, Singapore and India

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The main objective of the study is to examine the environmental management and disclosure practices employed by the various corporate enterprises in Singapore, Malaysia and India. An attempt has also been made to study the regulatory framework of environment management of the corporate sector. The study concludes that in the recent era, the concerns about environmental issues have gained momentum in the countries under study. They generally link environmental disclosure and financial performance measures and this should provide an incentive for companies to increase the content of their environmental management and reporting in their corporate reports. Mere compliance with legislative requirements is not sufficient by the corporate enterprises rather the companies should consider this as a part of their corporate social responsibility.

INTRODUCTION

The micro and macro aspects of environmental management have shaped new face of corporate environment reporting. The present practices indicate that the corporations disclose only the statutory information and the information relating to environmental disclosures are ignored by the companies. In order to make the corporate report more useful to the users, the same should include the voluntary disclosures like corporate social cost-benefit analysis, environmental accounting, and the extent of convergence to the global environment disclosure standards.

The corporations all over the world have to play an important role in resolving the environmental challenges facing the world because of the resources they command and the extent to which they may be responsible for environmental degradation. Current disclosure practices followed by most of the companies do not fully reflect the environmental impact of corporate operations.

It is now being realized by the economists, environmentalists, business managers and accountants that (1) if the benefits from rising incomes are offset by the costs imposed on health and quality of life by pollution, this cannot be called development; and (2) environmental damage can undermine future productivity. The corporate managers also need to remember the effects of their investment decisions on the environment.

The need for corporate environment disclosures arises to comply with the statutory requirements, public opinion and the logic of public accountability. The reform process in India since 1991-92 has certainly improved the performance of the different sectors in the Indian economy. The Indian Corporate sector has started realizing the need for adequate corporate environment and social disclosures in order to repose the confidence of the stakeholders in the working of their enterprises and performance.

RATIONALE OF STUDY

When we are marching ahead towards the 21st century, there is consensus among stakeholders that corporate environmental performance involves the integration of environmental considerations into the corporate business practices, and reporting of environmental performance that is measurable and comparable over time.

The concept of corporate governance in India has started gaining momentum and the deregulation, privatization, and globalization trends unleashed in the process of reforms led to renewed interest and need for good governance in the Country's corporate sector in order to have transparency and better environmental disclosure by the corporates.

The purpose of creating awareness of environment management by corporate sector is to help improve practices of environment where this subject has received scant attention. Industrial development in market oriented economies like Malaysia, Singapore and India in Asia-Pacific region is taking place at an accelerated rate since economic liberalization began in these countries. Hence it is of great interest to study the environmental management and disclosure practices of various corporate enterprises in these economies.

There is an urgent need to ensure a secure environment for the future. …