The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) — the independent body responsible for developing and issuing the Sustainability Reporting Standards — has issued an Interpretation on disclosure G4-32-b in the G4 Guidelines.
As of yesterday, is no longer required to complete the external assurance column in the G4 Content Index in order to report “in accordance” with G4.
The Interpretation is the first to be issued by the GSSB. Under the Due Process Protocol, the GSSB is mandated to use such authoritative pronouncements to refine and clarify disclosures and concepts in the Standards and original GRI Guidelines.
The rationale for amending the “in accordance” criteria is based on stakeholder feedback. Users suggested that providing information on the assurance status of each disclosure, whether or not it was externally assured, is confusing and adds little value to the Content Index.
The assurance report or statement in a sustainability report, if applicable, in combination with reporting against G4-33 and using plain and accessible language, should provide sufficient information on the assurance approach, and any limitations to the assurance process.
The Interpretation is included on the G4 web pages and in the downloadable G4 documents, where it is presented in a new annex. The G4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document has also been updated to capture the Interpretation. It offers guidance on using clear language to communicate about assurance — the standards used, the level applied, and the limitations.