Introducing the new GRI standards

19th October 2016

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  • Reporting ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Management


Oliver Gardner

The future of sustainability reporting.

Corporations and other organisations that are committed to becoming more sustainable now have a new tool help them understand and address pressing issues such as climate change, gender equality, child labour and corruption: the GRI sustainability reporting standards.

The GRI standards are the first global standard for sustainability reporting, the practice by which organisations publically disclose the impacts of their operations on the economy, the environment and society.

Over the past 20 years, thousands of organisations have adopted sustainability reporting (also known as non-financial reporting) in order to provide stakeholders with information about the organisation’s contributions – positive or negative – towards the goal of sustainable development.

Our new standards can be used by any type of organisation, in any part of the world, to begin understanding, managing and communicating these impacts.

The sustainable development agenda has gathered significant momentum, in light of the recent global commitments to the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), the Paris climate change agreement and the EU Directive on Non-Financial Reporting. As a result, the role of non-state actors and, in particular businesses, in helping solve some of the world’s most urgent problems is becoming increasingly important.

We are seeing a shift where there is increasing stakeholder demand for organisations to go beyond collecting and reporting this data to focusing on using this information to understand an organisation’s risks and opportunities, and inform strategic decision making.

Within this context the GRI standards are designed to be the common reporting language for the new era of corporate disclosure. GRI standards are a modular, interrelated set of disclosure of an organisation’s broader economic, environmental, social and governance impacts. The 36 GRI standards are based on the content from the G4 guidelines.

The new structure and clarifications make GRI standards more accessible for new and existing reporters, which will improve both the quantity and quality of sustainability reporting. Additionally, going forward, individual standards can be updated, or new ones can be added without the need to revise the entire reporting framework. This will lead to faster response times for new reporting measurements.

There are two ways to use GRI standards:

  • As a set to prepare a sustainability reporting ‘in accordance’ with GRI standards
  • Individually to disclose specific sustainability information, for instance, when required by regulators or stock exchanges, without preparing an entire sustainability report

This will provide the flexibility new reporting organisations, in particular SMEs, need to begin disclosing information about their most important impacts on the economy, the environment and society. Over the next years, we are hopeful to see thousands more organisations begin reporting, as they engage with the SDGs, the EU Directive on Non-Financial Reporting and international efforts to combat climate change.

You can find more information on the on the new GRI standard by visiting the GRI website here.


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