Global Reporting Initiative establishes new Australian base at St James Ethics Centre

Source: Global Reporting Initiative, 17 October 2008

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and St James Ethics Centre (the Centre) have today signed an agreement to establish an Australian base for GRI.
GRI is the developer of the world’s most widely-used sustainability reporting guidelines – the G3 Guidelines – that allow companies and other organizations to make meaningful public transparent disclosure on their economic, environmental and social performance. Over 1600 organizations globally use the Guidelines as the framework through which to disclose their sustainability performance.

The G3 reporting framework sets out the principles and indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance. Taken together, this information is increasingly demanded by consumers, employees, industrial buyers, investment analysts and NGOs when making decisions about whether or not to buy from, work for or invest in a particular firm.

“In the broader context of market meltdown and climate change concerns the importance of trusted, responsible, sustainable and transparent business practice has never been greater” says Dr Simon Longstaff, Executive Director, St James Ethics Centre.

Australia is already a regional leader – it is currently in the top five countries globally in terms of the number of sustainability reports produced by organizations based there.

“Australia has much to contribute in this space” says Rosemary Sainty, Head Responsible Business Practice at the Centre, “and we are keen to see Australia further grow as a trusted regional hub for business”.

GRI is a network organization. In developing relevant guidance for the disclosure of sustainability performance it brings together businesses, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations, academics, trade unions and other labor organizations and other stakeholders. In having a permanent Australian base GRI seeks to further engage a wide group of such stakeholders in the region.

“With this collaboration with the SJEC, we hope to strengthen and broaden the active and dynamic community in Australia that create, read and use sustainability reports,” said Leontien Plugge, Network Relations Manager at GRI.

GRI chose to partner with St James Ethics Centre due to its strong links with key players in regional corporate responsibility and sustainability, including its trusteeship of the Corporate Responsibility Index (CRI) – an initiative of Business in the Community (UK) and its longstanding partnership with the National Business Leader’s Forum on Sustainable Development.

The collaborative initiative will serve to strengthen the collective goals of both organizations – increasing the uptake of responsible business practice and making reporting on economic, environmental and social performance by all organizations as routine and comparable as financial reporting.

GRI and the St James Ethics Centre are grateful to the Australian Federal Government, through Treasury for funding the collaboration as part of the broader Responsible Business Practice funded project.

GRI and the Centre are also delighted to announce that Australia’s largest accounting body, CPA Australia ,will assist in the resourcing of a position in the newly founded GRI base as part of its commitment to the corporate responsibility agenda.

Its Chief Executive Officer Geoff Rankin says “As a member of the GRI, CPA Australia strongly supports its approach to sustainable business practice. We’ve brought its leaders to Australia to speak at our congresses so that businesspeople can learn firsthand about the benefits and the importance of the GRI’s approach. We are delighted to provide seed funding to help the St James Ethics Centre get an Australian base up and running.”