Fashion NGOs urges EU for sustainability open data principles

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-10-07 11:34:17 – United Kingdom

A group of fashion non-profit organizations (NGOs) has sent an open letter to the European Commission, urging that open data principles be included in the planned Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and supporting reporting frameworks.

The fashion NGOs who have signed the open letter to the EU include Open Apparel Registry, the Clean Clothes Campaign, Fashion Revolution, WikiRate, Azavea, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), The Center for the Advancement of Garment Making, C-MORE, and many more.

To ensure stakeholder access, interoperability, and collaboration, the open letter invites EU members of Parliament and the EU Commission to approve and include open data principles into the proposed Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

Natalie Grillon, executive director at the Open Apparel Registry, said that at the Open Apparel Registry, their theory of change centers on the belief that opening up supply chain data is necessary to enable interoperability and accountability across the apparel industry, as well as facilitate collaboration at the facility level. This is why, together with their colleague’s signatories, they have called on the European Commission to include open data principles in their proposed Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

The Clean Clothes Campaign, said that in order to support employees, supply chain information is vital - that includes historical data, to spot patterns, but also to address incidents of rights breaches, some of which take a long time to research and resolve. Factory closures are a common occurrence in the cases they handle. They must be able to collect, compare, and analyze data from the supply chain. That is only a possibility if the data is available as open data.

The open letter explains that Open Data is defined as data that can be freely utilized, re-used, and redistributed by anybody – subject only to the responsibility to attribute and sharealik (Open Data Handbook.

It also points out that data supplied as a linked PDF hidden in a lengthy business sustainability report does not meet the Open Data criterion. To unleash the legislation's full potential, the reporting frameworks and obligations of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive must include Open Data principles.

The signatories feel that establishing the disclosure format and data points necessary in the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive will enhance acceptance and ensure the scalability of the reporting framework.

The letter explains that as research in Germany has shown, confusing or free-form standards for CSR reporting resulted in just 17-19% of corporations completing their obligatory reporting. To realize their full potential to have a significant, long-term impact, complete, open data sets must be required. Future breakthroughs or academic research that is yet to be discovered will benefit immensely from entire data sets, rather than summary analyses or cherry-picked statistics," the letter continued. Costs can be minimized and harmonization between member states can be increased by having well-defined, repeatable, and predictable reporting formats and techniques, as well as demanding that this reporting follows open data standards.

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