A new momentum in the field of CSR and sustainable development has arisen. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) launched the world’s first global standards for sustainability reporting. The interest in non-financial reporting is on the rise - not only do firms gain important insight into their risk management and impacts of their activities, from 2017 it will also be required from many of them as per the EU Directive on non-financial reporting.
The GRI Standards will enable companies around the world to be more transparent about their impacts on the economy, the environment and society. They will also help organizations make better decisions and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Non-financial reporting made easy
The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards are based on the GRI G4 Guidelines, the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting disclosures. The GRI Standards, just as the GRI G4 Guidelines, are built upon three sustainable development pillars – economic, environmental and social - and facilitate corporate reporting on topics such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, and labor practices. However, they aim to be more straightforward, with a new format and modular structure that will make them more accessible to more businesses globally. Non-financial reporting will be clearer and less time-consuming. The G4 Guidelines will be phased out by July 1, 2018.
How do the new GRI Standards work?
They form a set of 36 modular standards. The first three universal standards are applicable to all reporting organizations and the other 33 standards are specific for each company and their area of interest. The Standards brought clarification of some key concepts and they make a clear distinction between reporting requirements, recommendations, and guidance. This will make it easier for organizations to know what they are expected to report, and how to report it.
The first tree universal standards explain how to use the entire set of standards, address contextual information about the reporting organization and its reporting practices and provide information about how the organization manages its material topics. The other 33 topic-specific standards relate to separate economic, environmental or social topics. This allows organizations to determine what topics are material to their business and report on only those topic-specific standards that are relevant to those material issues.
Best world practice accessible to small businesses
While corporate sustainability reporting has become the norm for big companies, it can be difficult and time consuming for smaller and mid-sized companies. With the new modular structure that allows corporate reporters determine what topics are material to their business, the GRI standards will make reporting more accessible to more organizations, including smaller companies.
While GRI provides an online overview of transitioning from G4 to GRI Standards, sustainability consultants can also help firms analyze their current corporate reports versus the new standards. We are the GRI data partner for Czech Republic and Slovakia - should you need any help with the transition from GRI G4 to GRI Standards, we will be happy to assist you.