The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has today unveiled the most significant changes to its reporting standards since 2016, setting a new benchmark for corporate sustainability.
The revised universal standards – which will be used by more than 10,000 companies from the start of 2023 – set a new level of transparency for impacts on the economy, environment and people.
They are designed to fully reflect due diligence expectations, including on human rights, as outlined by the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The standards also bring a “razor-sharp focus” to determining material topics, according to the GRI, with clarity on reporting principles, requirements and structure to improve decision making.
Furthermore, they enable consistent and comparable reporting, allowing companies to respond to emerging regulatory requirements, such as the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
Judy Kuszewski, chair of the GRI’s independent Global Sustainability Standard’s Board, said that addressing gaps between disclosure frameworks and intergovernmental expectations will “enable more effective and comprehensive reporting than ever before”.
“Built around the concepts of impact, material topics, due diligence and stakeholder engagement, these updates make it clear how companies can provide transparency and accountability in what they report,” she continued.
“We are providing them with the tools to demonstrate understanding of their impacts and respond to the information demands of their stakeholders, including investors, governments, and civil society.”
Although the updated reporting standards do not take effect until 1 January 2023, the GRI has encouraged early adoption.
The organisation has also today published its first sector standard – for oil and gas – as part of its integrated and complete modular system of sustainability reporting.
Sector standards will help companies focus reporting on the issues that matter most within their sectors and address their shared challenges. With 40 sectors identified, standards for coal, mining, agriculture, aquaculture and fishing are already under development.
“We have moved beyond the traditional social and environmental compliance models,” commented Alan Jorgenson, head of the OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct.
“Applying risk-based due diligence approach across all major areas of business ethics – not just for human rights but to environmental impacts and corruption as well – is the best way for business to ensure that risks are identified, avoided or addressed effectively.”
Image credit: iStock