GRI Launches Technology Initiative to Advance Digital Sustainability Reporting

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by | May 19, 2016

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GRI logoThe Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) today launched a technology initiative that aims to address key challenges in sustainability reporting: the lack of structured data and the lack of demand for digital reporting.

Announced on the second day of the GRI Global Conference, the new Digital Reporting Alliance will create the technical infrastructure for digital reporting by promoting an eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) taxonomy — for tagging sustainability data in reports — and a platform for filing digital reports, GRI says.

Developed in conjunction with Deloitte Netherlands, XBRL is an open-source tagging language similar to the XML system used worldwide for tagging data in financial reports. By using the language, GRI says companies can make their data readable by both humans and computers, making the data more accessible and easier to transfer.

“Sustainability information from business and government represents a vast amount of data that is currently underutilized. For innovation to take place, this information needs to be liberated and provided in a way that can be analyzed and integrated,” said Michael Meehan, GRI’s chief executive, in a statement. “There is overwhelming public and private sector demand for GRI to provide this data so that these organizations can develop innovative solutions. This was the number one recommendation from the GRI Technology Consortium and the Digital Reporting Alliance will put this recommendation into practice.”

GRI has also partnered with several technology organizations to advance its digital reporting efforts. These include: Climate-KIC, RobecoSAM, TCS, WikiRate and Workiva.

The launch of the alliance follows the release of the first set of exposure drafts of GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, which are available for public comment.

In November, the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) said it would transition the GRI G4 Guidelines to GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards). GSBB also said in the future, it will no longer issue generations of sustainability reporting guidelines as it has done historically. Instead, GRI Standards will be updated on an ongoing basis.

GRI Standards will include the same main concepts and all relevant disclosures from G4, just in an “improved structure, format and presentation,” according to GRI.

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