“Only the second revolution in accounting since double-entry bookkeeping began, it [multiple capital accounting] is of seismic proportions … The changes it will wreak are profound and far-reaching and not only will transform the way the world does business but also will alter the nature of capitalism.” 

Jane Gleeson-White
Author, Six Capitals or Can Accountants Save the Planet?

Every organization must “utilize context-based accounting tools, methods and metrics to measure, manage and report its TBL performance…”

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)
Authentic Sustainability Assessment  – A User Manual for the Sustainable Development Performance Indicators (11/22)

Our Theory of Change

The Certified TBL program is grounded in the view that sustainability in the conduct of human affairs is impossible without knowledge of the effects of human activity relative to science- and ethics-based norms.  Before anyone can be expected to behave sustainably, they must have access to information about what the effects of their activities are – social, economic and environmental.  Sustainability, that is, is deeply contingent upon the presence of persistent feedback, and only context-based feedback will do!

All of this may seem obvious, but it is still manifestly the case that most organizations systematically deprive themselves of precisely this kind of information in favor of addressing financial performance only.  And even when they do take non-financial impacts into account, it is rarely relative to sustainability norms (i.e., per resource limits and thresholds).  Thus, if sustainability in commerce is to have any chance of success, this has to change – mainstream accounting methods must be reformed accordingly, if only on a voluntary basis by individual organizations.

With reforms like this in mind, the Certified TBL program was created in solidarity with multicapitalism, an economic doctrine that interprets the performance of organizations and economies in terms of what their impacts on vital capitals are that people rely on for their well-being – and not just in incremental terms, but relative to sustainability norms or standards of performance.  The sustainability of human activities, that is, must be assessed in terms of what their effects are on the sufficiency of all vital capitals, not just one of them (economic).

In order to perform such assessments, Triple Bottom Line accounting systems rooted in Context-Based Sustainability are needed, the use of which can make it possible to define organization-specific standards of performance and to measure, manage and report performance against them.  The open-source MultiCapital Scorecard featured in the Certified TBL program is one such method and was designed with precisely this requirement in mind.  Others will no doubt emerge in due course.