In November, the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) said it would transition the GRI G4 Guidelines to GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, or 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.
In April GRI released the first set of exposure drafts of GRI Standards for public comment.
This latest set of 30 topic-specific, draft GRI Standards released today is based on the “aspects” from the G4 Guidelines, and each covers a separate sustainability topic, such as anti-corruption, emissions, biodiversity or child labor.
The transition from sustainability reporting guidelines to standards, allowing individual standards to be updated independently in the future, will keep the GRI Standards relevant in the rapidly evolving sustainability reporting landscape, GSSB says.
“The GRI G4 Guidelines are already the most widely used framework for sustainability reporting in the world. Our transition to Standards is designed to scale up our reach even further,” said Eric Hespenheide, GSSB chair in a statement. “The improved structure, format and presentation of GRI Standards, as well as the fact that individual Standards can be used alone, will open up reporting to thousands of organizations that have not yet begun disclosing their broader economic, environmental and social impacts. We are also transitioning from periodic to continual updates of GRI Standards, as market and stakeholder demands evolve.”
Although most G4 aspects will form the basis for an individual standard, some aspects have been merged to reduce duplication. For example, the G4 aspects “marketing and communications” and “product and service labeling” have been combined into one standard on “marketing and labeling.”
Each topic-specific GRI Standard now includes a new background context section, along with a clearer distinction between requirements, recommendations and guidance.
Organizations preparing a sustainability report “in accordance” with the GRI Standards will select only the relevant topic-specific standards, based on their material topics. However, the standards can also be used and referenced independently, to allow reporting on a specific sustainability subject. GSSB says this will give reporting organizations more flexibility and make sustainability reporting more accessible for new reporters, including small and medium-sized enterprises.
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