The future of reporting

22nd March 2016

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  • Reporting ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Management ,
  • Auditing


Elizabeth Sherwood

Sustainability data can be used for far more than reporting.

Corporate disclosure can be a powerful tool that can lead to a more sustainable economy and world, but this will only become the case if we do more with sustainability data than just collecting and reporting.

Over the past 15 years, GRI and its network have established a global language for gathering and publishing sustainability data and information. The fruits of this collaboration can be seen in the thousands of sustainability reports that are made public each year, as well as genuine efforts by some businesses to reduce their impacts on issues such as climate change, human rights abuses and corruption. But, we all know that we have a lot more to do to create a more sustainable economy and world.

It’s time to take sustainability reporting to the next level, where we unlock the true value of this data, allowing it to be accessed and shared in myriad new ways and to be integrated into decision-making processes. It’s in this light that GRI and its sponsors ENEL, EY, SAP and Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, convened the Sustainability and Reporting 2025 project, at the beginning of 2015.

The project is designed to promote an international conversation about the purpose of sustainability reporting and disclosures with an eye towards the decisions to be made in the next decade and how to better inform them. During the first phase of the project, GRI interviewed scores of executives and experts from various fields to talk about topics that will be critical for decision makers, ranging from data technology to society and business development scenarios. The aim was to identify the main issues that will be at the centre of companies’ agendas and their public reports.

Now, just over a year later, GRI is pleased to release the Next Era of Corporate Disclosure: Digital, Responsible, Interactive, a summary of the first year of the Sustainability and Reporting 2025 project. In it, you will find the identified key challenges that will be at the centre of the sustainability agenda during the next decade, as well as a vision about how reporting will be conducted in the future. This will include new formats, with organizations moving from annual reports to sustainability data exchange platforms, while focusing on major challenges like climate change and human rights, and how to integrate this into their supply chains and across all regions in which they operate. All of this will be coupled with a new role for stakeholders, who will be empowered by powerful data analysis tools and almost real-time interactions with companies.

GRI is now preparing the next phase of the project, which will focus on how the use of data technology can unlock the power of sustainability data to create transformational change. Find out more about these exploratory discussions at the 5th GRI Global Conference, May 18 – 20, in Amsterdam. Conference attendees will have access to a number of sessions related to GRI’s work in this area, including, the future of reporting in technology and big data, reporting trends of the future, using sustainability data to enable transformational change, and the power of sustainability and decision making.

The Next Era of Corporate Disclosure: Digital, Responsible, Interactive report is available here.


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