AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an international sustainability reporting institution that was formally inaugurated at a United Nations ceremony on 4 April 2002, has announced that its permanent Secretariat headquarters will be opened later this year in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The UN event marked the formal launch of GRI as a permanent, independent global institution. The permanent GRI will be affiliated with the UN as a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Collaborating Centre.
Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP presided at the event. The GRI has an ambitious and innovative vision, said Dr. Töpfer. An increasing number of stakeholders, including the investment community, share the goal of the GRI to raise the practice of corporate sustainability reporting to the level of rigour, credibility, comparability and verifiability of financial reporting. The recent Enron experience only reinforces the need for such reporting.
Convened in 1997 by the US-based Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), in collaboration with UNEP, the GRI was established to develop, promote, and disseminate a generally accepted framework for sustainability reportingvoluntary reporting on the economic, environmental, and social performance of corporations and other organisations.
GRIs decision to locate its Secretariat headquarters in Amsterdam culminated a site selection process that included a request from Dr. Töpfer to all countries with permanent missions to UNEP to submit bids to host GRI.
We considered a number of factors in selecting a permanent site, commented Dr. Judy Henderson, Chair of GRIs Board of Directors and former commissioner on the World Commission on Dams. Amsterdam provides excellent access to the international business and investment community, labour, NGOs, the corporate social responsibility community and other stakeholder constituencies.
At the same time, said Henderson, we were delighted to have been greeted with such broad support from the Dutch government. The ministries of Economic Affairs, Environment, and Social Affairs and Employment have been extremely encouraging and collaborative. We would also like to thank the City of Amsterdam and Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency for their contributions. We look forward to close working partnerships with all of these groups now and in the future.
GRIs mandate as an international standards body is to make sustainability reporting as routine as financial reporting while achieving the highest standards of technical excellence. The GRI involves the active participation of thousands of representatives from business, accountancy, investment, environmental, human rights, and labour organisations worldwide in designing a common framework called the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. More than 110 pioneering companies from around the world have already undertaken sustainability reporting using the GRI Guidelines including ATT, BASF, British Telecom, Canon, Co-operative Bank, Danone, Electrolux, Ford, GM, Henkel, ING, KLM, NEC, Nike, Novo Group, Nokia, Shell, and South African Breweries. GRI will release a new version of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines in July 2002 after two years of consultations with advocacy, labour and governmental organisations, and testing by dozens of corporations.