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GRI: Three pivotal takeaways from GRI’s annual governmental donors meeting
Triggering tangible economic, social, and environmental improvements in the developing countries was the underlying essence of GRI’s second annual donors meeting. The discussion centered on GRI’s work in emerging markets and how sustainability reporting can support solutions for tackling critical development challenges.
Keeping an eye on the future, GRI’s second annual donors meeting in Amsterdam focused on the challenges and opportunities for sustainable development in emerging markets. In a day-long exchange of experiential knowledge and insights, GRI’s country managers and directors located in Africa, South America and Asia, interacted directly with our government funders from Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (UK) on the potential of reporting as a driver for transparent and sustainable value chains.
The following are three significant takeaways from this discussion on developing the sustainability reporting landscape in the emerging markets, which also underlie GRI’s current work in its government-funded programs.
Enabling small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to report on their sustainability impacts
SMEs in developing countries face the risk of losing their competitive edge in global value chains due to the general lack of understanding and transparency about environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities . Increasing the reporting capacity of SMEs by providing knowledge and tools, is needed to foster sustainable development and growth in these emerging markets.
Advancing corporate reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Most companies do not yet have a standardized way of reporting across the economic, environmental and social categories. A single clear framework that aligns corporate sustainability disclosures with the specific goals and targets of the SDGs, will offer a stronger foundation for assessing and harnessing the impacts of the private sector.
Maximizing the use of data in decision making for change
As sustainability reporting becomes standard practice in most businesses and organizations, so does the need to increase and optimize the use of these data for impactful decision making. In addition to discussing the current approach of training government, civil society and media representatives to make effective use of sustainability data, the group also recognized the need for more forward-thinking and innovation. Future program proposals, for instance, could consider developing digital platforms that enable comparisons across regions or sector disclosures.
GRI has strategic program partnerships with several government agencies targeting the three pathways outlined above to bring about tangible change in the developing countries through sustainability reporting. These include the Corporate Sustainability and Reporting for Competitive Business (CSRCB) program with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and programs on advancing business transparency for sustainable development in Asia and Africa, supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). This month, GRI also begins its new program Sustainable Trade and Investment through Reporting in the Indo-Pacific (STIR Indo-Pacific) with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).