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GRI's new digital alliance aims to update sustainability reporting

Digital Reporting Alliance will develop digital infrastructure to make data-heavy sustainability reporting quicker and simpler.

The influential Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched a new program to help businesses improve their sustainability reporting by taking advantage of digital platforms.

Launched at the 5th GRI Global Conference in Amsterdam, the Digital Reporting Alliance aims to address two key challenges in sustainability reporting: the lack of structured data and the lack of demand for digital reporting.

Under the new program, the Alliance will create a platform to make filing digital sustainability reports simpler and promote a standard system of reporting across digital reports.

Once this sustainability data is digitized and standardized, it can be used to drive innovation and share best practice, according to GRI's chief executive Michael Meehan.

For innovation to take place, this information needs to be liberated.

"Sustainability information from business and government represents a vast amount of data that is currently underutilized," he said in a statement. "For innovation to take place, this information needs to be liberated and provided in a way that can be analyzed and integrated."

Alongside the Digital Reporting Alliance, GRI also announced new partnerships with a number of other sustainability and technology specialists, including investment specialists RobecoSAM, environmental ratings platform WikiRate and climate innovation initiative Climate-KIC.

GRI said these partnerships will help organizations and stakeholders towards the "next era of corporate disclosure," which it predicted would be "digital, responsive and interactive."

The GRI's sustainability reporting guidelines provide the basis for thousands of firms sustainability reports around the world, offering a comparable approach to disclosing information on a raft of environmental impacts, including carbon emissions, energy use and policy positions.

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