[New project] The potential of big data technologies for the due diligence process

Published 7 November 2022

@Shutterstock - The potential of big data technologies for the due diligence process

Last month, the Asser Institute began a new project to investigate the potential of big data technologies in the context of the due diligence process for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Human rights and environmental due diligence
Business relationships and value chains today have no boundaries. Participation and integration in global supply chains creates enormous opportunities for businesses and countries. However, human rights, social, and environmental standards are regularly undermined in these complex supply networks. One response to this situation is a greater emphasis on sustainability and the implementation of human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) in supply chains. A growing number of countries, as well as the EU, have enacted or are considering enacting HREDD legislation. In this context, HREDD will become an important process for an increasing number of businesses.

Huge amounts of data
However, the complexity of supply chains is likely to necessitate the treatment of huge amounts of data by companies, which will, by their nature, present several challenges, including the fact that they can be non-standardised, inconsistent, incomplete, unreliable, and scattered across databases and stakeholders. As the demand for and availability of environmental and human rights data from global supply chains will grow, as new compliance and reporting requirements take shape, the role of big data technologies (eg artificial intelligence) in the context of HREDD is likely to emerge.

The Asser Institute will deliver a comprehensive study on the subject during 2023. The guiding questions for the study are:

  • What is the potential (use) of big data technologies to assess prevent, mitigate and remedy environmental and human rights risks in global supply chains?
  • Where does the technology fit into the HRDD process?
  • How can it be used as a tool to further HRDD obligations? 

The project is led by Dr Antoine Duval (senior researcher) and includes Dr Virginie Rouas (researcher) and Max Ebdon (intern).