Innovation in Sustainable Development and Reporting

Posted on May 20, 2016 by Dave Nitchman

green economy and sustainable deveolpment, green leaves over continents

This week is the annual conference for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). GRI has been pushing the use of structured data for sustainability reporting, and their efforts are an interesting example of how innovations in reporting are closely tied to public policy and positive change in the area actually being reported.

A few weeks ago, we noted that achieving truly open data hinges on an effective partnership between the public and private sectors . . . policy supporting innovation and vice versa. We’ve seen just such a development in our community with the success of SBR in the Netherlands and Australia. This week at a plenary session at GRI’s annual conference, stakeholders heard a similar message: That achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set forth by the UN will only come about by leveraging “the vast potential of private sector innovation and collaboration, and the role of government in supporting the breakthroughs needed”. (The UN’s SDG’s cover 17 areas with the goals of ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring broad prosperity).

GRI Deputy Chief Executive Teresa Fogelberg went on to say that “now, more than ever, there is a greater need for alignment, measurement and communication through the sustainability reporting process to enable a strong private sector contribution to the SDGs”.

Whether the goal is sustainable development, economic growth, cutting red tape for business, providing better information to investors, improving the flow of capital to SMEs or any number of other things, structured disclosure reporting using XBRL plays a vital supporting role. Governments, NGOs, private organisations and other stakeholders around the world are using the information unlocked by XBRLfor the public good. Check out the graphic again at the top of this week’s newsletter – XBRL data is a valuable resource in a growing number of countries; not just for government agencies but for firms, investors and citizens too.  Read a synopsis of the GRI plenary session.

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