Work begins on new sustainability reporting guidelines

Source: Global Reporting Initiative, 4 May 2011

The next generation of Sustainability Reporting Guidelines is now under development, announces GRI today (4 May 2011). GRI is asking its network and the public to provide input in this first phase of development, to help shape the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework.

GRI provides a framework for producing sustainability reports. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines enable all organizations worldwide to assess their sustainability performance and disclose the results in a similar way to financial reporting. GRI’s vision is a sustainable global economy, where disclosure of sustainability performance is standard practice.

The next generation of GRI Guidelines – G4 – should address requirements for sustainability data, and enable reporters to provide relevant information to various stakeholder groups, including shareholders, investors and consumers. It should also improve on content in the current Guidelines – G3 and G3.1 – with strengthened technical definitions and improved clarity, helping reporters, information users and assurance providers.

Lisa French, Director – Reporting Framework at the Global Reporting Initiative, said: “This is an exciting day for GRI and for sustainability reporting in general. The new Guidelines we are developing need to be fit for purpose as sustainability reporting enters a mainstreaming phase.

“To make sure the guidance is optimal, we need the input of stakeholders from around the world. What topics should be included? What should the new framework look like? These are important questions we hope to gather answers to in this preliminary phase of the development,” added French.

To achieve guidance fit for mainstream use, three main challenges must be met: To help companies report to all their different stakeholders, to promote harmonization of available frameworks and principles, and to provide sustainability reporting guidance suitable for companies that wish to integrate their financial and non-financial performance data.

The overall aim of the first development phase is to take a close look at the GRI Guidelines with a fresh perspective. GRI is launching an international, public “call for sustainability reporting topics” to collect input on what new issues should be covered in G4. GRI is also asking individuals and organizations to register their interest in taking part in the first G4 Public Comment Period, planned for 90 days starting in August 2011.

The call for sustainability reporting topics and registrations will open on 16 May 2011.