It is no exaggeration to say that accountability
is one of the defining imperatives of the modern global economy.
Corporations now account for half of the world’s largest economies.
They dominate foreign direct investment,
vastly exceeding the resources of governments and multi-lateral
institutions as drivers of development.
Yet with this steady increase in economic
power, there has been no equivalent rise in generally accepted accountability
Accountability is used here in the
broadest sense-internal accountability among boards, management,
and shareowners, and external accountability between corporations
and society. The disjuncture between corporate power andì corporate
accountability lies at the core of heated debates over the costs,
benefits, and future of globalisation.
It is in this context that GRI has
emerged as the leading initiative in building a new reporting infrastructure,
designed to complement rather than displace financial reporting.
Expansion of capital and information markets continue to bring unprecedented
opportunities for creation of new wealth at the same time they deepen
scepticism among many that such wealth is exacerbating, rather than
diminishing, social inequities.
The world is moving from an ‘international’
model of interaction, with nations the key points of power, to a
‘global’ model, where the locus of power is at once diffuse and
networked. Transnational business organisations and their supply
chains, borderless capital and information markets, and multifaceted
networks of people are linked and mobilised by technology. It is
increasingly clear that accountability structures of the last century
are notadequate to meet the challenges of this new, interconnected
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