The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced today an agreement with the Swiss Confederation’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), partnering on a $4.6 million program aimed at increasing high-quality sustainability disclosure and accountability by organizations in Africa, Hispanic America and South East Asia.

The GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Standards are the most commonly accepted global standards for sustainability reporting by companies, developed to enable consistent reporting across companies and industries, providing clearer communication to stakeholders regarding sustainability matters. The standards are available for reporting across a wide range of ESG-related topics, ranging from anti-corruption practices to biodiversity and emissions.

The new initiative, Sustainability Reporting for Responsible Business (SRRB), aims to create and improve the environment for transparency and disclosure and increase the application of corporate sustainability data by stakeholders. The program will provide training activities and workshops for businesses, associations, investors and stakeholders as well as improved access to sustainability development by providing scholarship for the GRI Professional Certification Program.

Other key focus areas of the new initiative include facilitating engagements and events with policy officials and government agents on how to integrate ESG disclosure in the public sector, collaborating with markets and national regulators in support of robust sustainable finance regulations, and engaging journalists on stories relating to sustainable development and the role of corporate reporting. In addition, the program will support higher education institutions in incorporating content on ESG disclosure in business management and finance courses.

Ambassador Raymund Furrer, Head of Economic Development Cooperation at SECO, said:

 “For Switzerland, mainstreaming social and environmental considerations into private sector operations is an important factor to achieve sustainable development. The importance of sustainability reporting is increasing, as a growing number of countries are introducing rules affecting due diligence regarding corporate activities abroad. For companies in both developed and emerging markets, this presents certain challenges, but more importantly an opportunity to become part of global value chains and attract investors. We are thus very pleased to continue our successful partnership with GRI to assist companies in our partner countries to reap the benefits of solid sustainability reporting.”

The new initiative marks a continuation of the collaboration between GRI and SECO, with past partnerships including the 2016-2020 Corporate Sustainability and Reporting for Competitive Business program, targeting companies in Columbia, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, South Africa and Vietnam.

Marco van der Ree, GRI Chief Development Officer, added:

“I welcome and value the continued collaboration with the Swiss Government, who are one of the strongest supporters for GRI’s mission to utilize corporate transparency as a driver for sustainable development. This funding will allow us to deepen engagement with companies, markets, policymakers and other groups throughout Africa, South East Asia and Hispanic America. Our new program with SECO builds on strong foundations, following a previous program that engaged thousands of companies and stakeholders in sustainability reporting. We are hugely excited about the opportunities to further increase sustainable business practices and policies, which are crucial for achieving resilient economies and making progress towards the SDGs.”