The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), one of the leading organizations promoting standardized ESG reporting, announced today the launch of the revised Universal Standards. The publication marks a major update to the organization’s sustainability reporting standards, incorporating human rights disclosures and applying a due diligence approach addressing the major sustainability risk areas.
GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards are the most commonly accepted global standards for sustainability reporting by companies, developed to enable consistent reporting across companies and industries, providing clearer communication to stakeholders regarding sustainability matters. The standards are available for reporting across a wide range of ESG-related topics, ranging from anti-corruption practices to biodiversity and emissions.
In 2015, the GRI established the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) as an independent operating entity with sole responsibility for the development of GRI sustainability standards, which were launched in 2016. In 2019, the GSSB initiated a project to review the standards, aiming to improve the quality and consistency of sustainability reporting.
Judy Kuszewski, Chair of the GSSB, said:
“With the most significant change since the GRI Standards launched in 2016, the revised Universal Standards set a new global benchmark for corporate transparency. Fully addressing gaps between the available disclosure frameworks and intergovernmental expectations for responsible business, including human rights reporting, they will enable more effective and comprehensive reporting than ever before.
In addition to a strengthened transparency on human rights, and an enhanced due diligence-focused approach, the revised standards are expected to bring a heightened focus on determining material sustainability topics, along with clarity on reporting principles, requirements and structure. According to the GRI, the Universal Standards will position organizations to meet emerging regulatory reporting requirements, such as the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and the IFRS plans for enterprise value standards.
“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. 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.”
The GRI also published the Sector Standard Project for Oil and Gas, its first sector-specific reporting standard. The standard facilitates disclosures related to the impact of operations, as well as the progress companies are making in support of the future transition to a low-carbon economy. Future standards are under development for a wide range of sectors including coal, mining, agriculture, aquaculture and fishing.