GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards Released for Comment

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by | Apr 19, 2016

GRI logoHere’s your chance to give input on the newest version of the Global Reporting Initiative’s sustainability reporting standards.

In November, the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) said it would transition the GRI G4 Guidelines to GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards). GSBB also said in the future, it will no longer issue generations of sustainability reporting guidelines as it has done historically. Instead, GRI Standards will be updated on an ongoing basis.

Today GRI released the first set of exposure drafts of GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards for public comment. This means for 90 days, anyone can review the initial six GRI Standards and give feedback to GSSB.

GRI Standards will include the same main concepts and all relevant disclosures from G4, just in an “improved structure, format and presentation,” according to GRI. There will be three “universal” standards applicable to all organizations, and about 35 “topic-specific” standards.

This first set of exposure drafts includes the three universal GRI Standards:

  1. The Foundation Standard includes the Reporting Principles and “in accordance” criteria. This is the entry point for organizations using GRI Standards.
  2. The General Disclosures Standard covers organizational profile, governance, stakeholder engagement, reporting practice, strategy and analysis.
  3. The Management Approach Standard includes the disclosure on management approach (DMA) from G4, and may be used with any topic-specific GRI Standard.

The exposure drafts will also include three topic-specific GRI Standards: Emissions, Indirect Economic Impacts and Public Policy.

Organizations preparing a sustainability report “in accordance” with GRI Standards will use all three universal standards and will be able to make their own selection of relevant topic-specific standards, based on those that are material. Organizations can also use individual GRI Standards or their contents to disclose specific sustainability information and are required to include a reference in any published materials.

GRI says the new GRI Standards have clearer distinctions between requirements, denoted by “shall;” recommendations, denoted by “should;” and guidance sections. Content from G4 has been edited to improve clarity and simplify language, which GRI says will make the standards more user-friendly. Additional clarifications have been provided for elements of G4 that were commonly misunderstood, such as how to define the topic “Boundary” and how to report on topics not covered by GRI Standards.

The new modular structure will enable individual standards to be updated independently, which GRI says will ensure that the standards remain consistent with regulations and best practices.

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