Making Sense of GRI’s New Standards

Sustainability reporting has come a long way in the last few decades and continues to evolve as the imperative for companies grows. Many frameworks, like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, are comprehensive but they are not static. GRI has just released a new set of sustainability reporting guidelines, aimed at standardizing the language companies use to communicate non-financial information. They will be required for reports published on or after 1 July 2018; organisations already reporting to GRI G4 may continue to do so until then.

The new GRI Standards build upon the GRI G4, especially in their focus on management approach, materiality, and accordance. They are not to be considered G5; if the organisation is in accordance with GRI G4, the reporting process is unlikely to change in a significant way. That said, the new Standards are different enough from the previous iteration to warrant careful evaluation. The GRI Standards consist of three universal standards and 33 topic specific standards, grouped into three series: 200 series- Economic, 300 series- Environmental and 400 series – Social. Indicators are now ‘disclosure’, Aspects are now ‘topic’ and Disclosure on management approach (DMA) is now ‘Management approach disclosure’.

To assist in transition, GRI has published a mapping document that compares G4 to the new Standards. Although they are offered in English only at the moment, GRI intends to translate into priority languages including Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian by early 2017.

cr360 will continue to be a certified software tool for the GRI G4 until at least June 2017. Depending on licence renewals this may be extended to June 2018. The content will still be available to upload in our frameworks tool.

We are currently working with GRI to become a GRI Certified Software Provider for the new Standards. The certification process can be lengthy, so clients will have access to uncertified content when it is ready. We helped transition clients from GRI G3.1 to GRI G4, so we know the process and are confident that we can help you. In fact, we are already working to support our clients as they transition to the new GRI Standards.