The Digital Reporting Alliance – launched at GRI’s 5th Global Conference – has been introduced to help businesses tackle issues surrounding the lack of structured data available for reports, while also aiming to boost the demand for digital reporting.

“Sustainability information from business and government represents a vast amount of data that is currently underutilised. For innovation to take place, this information needs to be liberated and provided in a way that can be analysed and integrated,” GRI’s chief executive, Michael Meehan said.

In an attempt to drive innovation and best practice, the alliance will implement technological infrastructure – by utilising an open-source tagging system through Deloitte Netherlands – to create a more readable and interactive platform for handling sustainability data.

Data tsunami

GRI is working collaboratively with a range of different sectors, including the public-private innovation programme Climate-KIC and a rating platform for environmental action WikiRate, in order to drive digital innovation, considered the “number one recommendation” by the GRI Technology Consortium.

“These are immensely exciting times we’re living in,” GRI Technology Consortium’s executive chairman John Elkington said. “Digitisation is bringing a tsunami of data – an immense potential driver of change. Previously, we needed a human battering ram to get sustainability into the boardrooms of companies.

“It wasn’t that they didn’t have the data; they just couldn’t see the relevance of the agenda we’re discussing today. This is definitely beginning to change.”

The launch of the Digital Reporting Alliance follows on from GRI’s efforts to promote greater transparency in sustainability reporting. The NGO recently unveiled its GOLD Community, which offers members – – including PepsiCo, Suncor and the European Investment Bank – exclusive benefits to help drive the sustainability shift.

‘Multifaceted landscape’

With the sustainability reporting manager at British American Tobacco arguing that the multifaceted landscape of sustainability reporting has become overwhelming for businesses, companies are beginning to turn to data management to enhance sustainable practices and unlock secrets to success.

Integrated utilities provider SSE Enterprise told edie how it had turned to data analytics to spark a behaviour change, while global IT corporation IBM has announced plans to expand its Green Horizons programme, which uses big data to help cities and companies make informed environmental decisions.

Matt Mace

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