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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

News Round-Up – Reactions to GRI G4 Guidelines

An update to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3.1 sustainability reporting guidelines was recently announced at the world’s biggest conference on sustainability reporting.  Founded in 1997, GRI is a non-profit organisation aiming to promote and harmonise sustainability reporting globally through the provision of standards, which are now used by over 11,000 companies worldwide.  GRI claims that their new G4 guidelines have increased user-friendliness and accessibility - but does everyone agree with them?

CSR blog Triple Pundit runs through the main changes: the removal of the ABC application levels, more focus on materiality, the introduction of new Disclosure on Management requirements, adaption of sector supplements and new flexibility on external assurance.  It believes that the new changes are positive and more straightforward, even for new users.

The Carbon Trust says this is an opportunity for a more ‘forensic’ disclosure of indicators such as carbon emissions, helping identify supply chain risks. The increased volume of indicators could nevertheless be challenging for businesses.

SMEs, with their more limited resources, may especially struggle with the demands for reporting through the supply chain, says the Center for Corporate Citizenship.  However, the organisation feels the new guidelines present an opportunity for larger businesses to help smaller suppliers to meet sustainability performance demand.

Similarly, consultancy Salterbaxter says that using G4 guidelines is one of the best ways of integrating sustainability long-term into businesses - but the update could put off new users or those less advanced in sustainability reporting.

GRI guidelines have undoubtedly become the industry norm for reporting on sustainability.  Triple Pundit praises the thoroughness of the collaborative work on the new guidelines.  Let’s hope that their optimism is not misplaced – it would be a shame if organisations decreased, abandoned or were put off by sustainability reporting due to the new demands. 

Blog by Bárbara Mendes-Jorge

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