The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced today that it has received a $950,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a corporate HIV/AIDS reporting protocol.
The grant, which will be administered by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), will fund research and development of a standardized approach for companies to share information on HIV/AIDS policies, practices, and programs. The extractive and itinerant-worker industries of mining, forestry, agriculture and ground transportation will be the initial focus for the project.
"These workplaces are often located at great distances from friends and family, and consequently are subject to behavior that increases the prospect of infection," said Gordon Perkin, MD, Director Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "We’re finding increased corporate interest in AIDS prevention not only from a sense of social responsibility, but also from the standpoint of positive economic benefits."
Consistent with all projects undertaken by GRI, the HIV/AIDS information disclosure standard will be developed in a multi-stakeholder fashion. In addition to industry experts, representatives of human and labor rights advocacy groups, government, and research institutions will participate in a highly consultative process.
"We look forward to working with the United Nations Environment Programme and our other UN partners in addition to key existing organizations who have mobilized to combat the AIDS pandemic in Africa and beyond," said Dr. Robert Kinloch Massie, GRI Steering Committee Chair.
"Through this leadership grant the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is once again underscoring the belief that the information revolution will bring new forms of transparency, assessment, and accountability to every aspect of commerce," said Massie. "This grant is a key step towards providing interested stakeholders a way to track corporate performance in responding to the AIDS crisis."
Convened in 1997 by CERES in partnership with UNEP, the GRI is working to elevate sustainability reporting to the level of rigor, comparability, and completeness evident in financial reporting. The GRI has incorporated the active participation of hundreds of business, accountancy, investment, environmental, human rights, and labor organizations from around the world in designing a common framework for sustainability reporting, called the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. More than 100 major companies have tested or used the Guidelines in shaping their reports.
A permanent, independent GRI will emerge in 2002 as a major international institution built on a multi-stakeholder process and world-class technical excellence to advance sustainability reporting.
The grant brings to a total of $6.4 million that have been committed to the GRI over the past three years.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to improving people’s lives by sharing advances in health and learning with the global community. Led by Bill Gates’ father, William H. Gates, Sr., and Patty Stonesifer, the Seattle-based foundation has an asset base of $23.5 billion.