GRI – Sustainability Reporting
GRI was founded in Boston in 1997 following public outcry over the environmental damage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The first version of the GRI Guidelines (G1), published in 2000, providing the first global framework for sustainability reporting. The following year, GRI was established as an independent, non-profit institution. In 2002 the GRI moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands and the first guideline update (G2) was launched. As GRI reporting and sourcing demand from organizations increased, the guidelines were expanded and refined, resulting in G3 (2006) and G4 (2013).
In 2016, GRI transitioned to the GRI Standards, from providing guidelines for setting the first global standards for sustainability reporting.
GRI Reporting Standards
GRI helps businesses and governments around the world to understand and communicate their impact on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, governance and social welfare. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards are developed with multi-stakeholder contributions and are based on the public interest.
GRI is currently the most commonly used sustainability reporting framework. There are four key elements in the framework:
- Sustainability reporting guidelines (Standards) are the cornerstone of the framework. These consist of Principles for defining report content and ensuring the quality of the information reported. They also include Standard Disclosures, which consist of performance indicators and other disclosure items, and guidance on specific technical issues in reporting.
- Indicator protocols are available for each of the performance indicators in the guidelines. These protocols provide definitions, compilation guidance, and other information to assist reporters and ensure consistency in the interpretation of performance indicators. Users of the guidelines should also use Indicator Protocols.
- Industry appendices supplement the Guidelines with comments and guidance on how to apply them in a particular industry and include industry-specific performance indicators. Applicable sector suffixes should be used in addition to the guidelines.
- Technical protocols are established to provide guidance on reporting issues, such as setting the report boundary. It is designed to be used in conjunction with guidelines and industry appendices, and covers issues faced by most organizations in the reporting process.
While the GRI Standards seek to increase comparability between reports by encouraging the use of common indicators, they can also include flexibility so organizations can take steps to reflect the context in which they operate. They can also be used in a more informal approach appropriate to the capacity of the organization. The organization may choose to cover only a portion of the content as it works to improve its reports. With this in mind, organizations are asked to clearly state how they are using the GRI Standards, and in particular key indicators. With time and practice, organizations are encouraged to gradually move towards more comprehensive reporting based on the content of the GRI framework.