GRI launches new sustainability reporting guidelines for business

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched the fourth edition of its sustainability reporting guidelines, which helps businesses disclose information on the environmental, social and economic areas of their operations.

The new guidance, called G4, will provide companies with a clear, strategic and practical roadmap on sustainability reporting.

GRI announced G4 this week in Amsterdam at the biggest global conference on sustainability and reporting, convening 1600 attendees from over 80 countries.

At the event, the GRI also announced that it has renewed its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UN Global Compact, a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices..

The mutual support between GRI and the UN Global Compact has led to the incorporation of the Global Compact’s ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption into GRI’s sustainability reporting guidelines.

UN Global Compact executive director Georg Kell said: “The UN Global Compact welcomes G4 and our renewed partnership with GRI, as we recognize that strategic engagement triggered by universal principles and reporting go hand in hand”.

“As a valuable option for Global Compact participants to report on their progress, G4 provides clear linkages with our ten principles that will help any company preparing a Global Compact Communication on Progress (COP) to align its reporting with the GRI Guidelines,” added Kell.

While the renewed agreement affirms a long-standing collaboration and alliance between the two global organisations, it also marks the beginning of a number of innovative collaborations, in particular on the post-2015 UN development agenda.

As the target date for the internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, discussions on new global development priorities and the pivotal role for business are gaining momentum.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has assigned the Global Compact to contribute to the post-2015 development process by consulting with its network of over 7000 businesses to help define the role of the business community.

In September, the UN Global Compact will unveil an implementation architecture for business to contribute to these global priorities. According to the UN, this architecture will address the importance of corporate transparency and accountability, and link to the role of corporate sustainability reporting.

Chief executive of GRI, Ernst Ligteringen, said: “Both the UN Global Compact principles and the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines help business establish its role in sustainable development. Both frameworks are used by thousands of companies in industrialized and developing countries alike.

“These companies have found that reporting changes mind frames, that it supports dialogue, and that it helps build understanding and trust between business and communities. The reporting practice built by these thousands of companies is a hugely valuable resource, to be leveraged to measuring sustainable development performance, to scale up the contribution business makes globally to sustainable development,” added Ligteringen.

The two organisations will work together to provide the increasing number of companies using GRI’s reporting guidelines and the Global Compact’s COP with clear guidance on how to link their sustainability disclosure to potential sustainable development goals.

Leigh Stringer

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