The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a leading organisation in the sustainability field. GRI promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organisations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development. Also see: www.globalreporting.org.
GRI has pioneered and developed a comprehensive Sustainability Reporting Framework that is widely used around the world.
GRI seeks to make sustainability reporting by all organisations a standard practice like, and comparable to, financial reporting. A sustainability report is a report published by a company or organisation about the economic, environmental and social impacts caused by its everyday activities. A sustainability report also presents the organisation's values and governance model, and demonstrates the link between its strategy and its commitment to a sustainable global economy.
GRI Guidelines are regarded to be widely used. More than 4,000 organisations from 60 countries use the Guidelines to produce their sustainability reports. GRI Guidelines apply to corporate businesses, public agencies, smaller enterprises, NGOs, industry groups and others.
Environmental transparency is one of the main areas of business under the scope of the GRI. GRI encourages participants to report on their environmental performance using specific criteria. The standardised reporting guidelines concerning the environment are contained within the GRI Indicator Protocol Set.
The GRI is an example of an organisation that acts outside of the top-down power command structures associated with government. Environmental governance is the multifaceted and multilayered nature of "governing" the borderless and state-indiscriminate natural environment.
The first version of the Guidelines was launched in 2000. The following year, on the advice of the Steering Committee, CERES separated GRI as an independent institution.
The GRI reporting framework and services
The framework enables greater organisational transparency and accountability. This can build stakeholders’ rust in organizations, and lead to many other benefits. G4 is the latest version of GRI's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines – the core document in its Reporting Framework, which was released in May 2013. GRI’s services for its users expanded to include coaching and training, software certification, 'beginners' reporting guidance for small and medium-sized enterprises, and certifying completed reports. In 2011, GRI published the G3.1 Guidelines – an update and completion of G3, with expanded guidance on reporting gender, community and human rights-related performance
Sustainability reporting as a standard practice
Awareness and uptake of sustainability reporting has increased dramatically in recent years. Many organisations consider sustainability reporting to be necessary and beneficial, yet growth in sustainability reporting is said to be needed to be exponential for it to become a standard business activity.
To make sustainability reporting standard practice, GRI is:
- Standardising sustainability reporting and providing up-to-date guidance
- Creating capacity through training and outreach
- Promoting a 'report or explain' approach to sustainability reporting policy
- Supporting the development of integrated reporting