GRI Update January 2001

Source: GRI, 27 January 2001

A new update from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), guidelines for sustainability reporting.
Get Involved!

How To Get Involved With Improving The Guidelines:
The GRI needs your help as we begin the process of revising the June 2000 first edition of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. As you know, the Guidelines are a dynamic work in progress, and their continual improvement is the goal of the GRI. We currently plan to release the revised, second edition, of the Guidelines in September 2002. The Secretariat is setting up several ways for you to become actively involved in this revision. We will be soliciting your participation throughout 2001. The quality of the 2002 Guidelines depends on the quality of engagement in the process.

Measurement Working Group Subgroups

The Measurement Working Group (MWG) will assist the GRI Secretariat, Steering Committee, and future Board of Directors revise the performance section (Part C, Section 6) of the June 2000 Guidelines based on feedback from those who write reports and those who use reports. Co-chairs are:
– Chris Tuppen, BT (UK)
– Chanda Bushan, Centre for Science and Environment (India)
– Ivo Knoepfel, SAM Sustainability Group (Switzerland).

The coordinating committee for the MWG meets in Z├╝rich, Switzerland, on 2930 January 2001. The primary objective for this meeting is to establish a set of subgroups to focus on particular areas or issues (e.g., micro-macro linkages, human rights performance, labour rights, biodiversity). The MWGs work will be carried out largely through these subgroups. By mid-February, the GRI will announce the subgroup topics via e-mail and the web site, and will begin actively seeking candidates for subgroup membership. You are encouraged to become a candidate for these subgroups. Subgroup members will be selected and recruited by the Secretariat in a manner that ensures diverse constituents and expertise. Candidates will be asked to commit themselves to participate fully in the subgroup. To the extent that resources permit, GRI will support travel expenses for those needing financial assistance. Work of the MWG will proceed through November 2001.

Structured Feedback

The Secretariat is devising guidance to help organisations provide written feedback on the Guidelines in a structured way. There will be several versions of this guidance, tailored for specific types of organisations (e.g., organisations writing reports, advocacy groups, accounting bodies, investors). We will send you an e-mail detailing this process before the end of February.

We have already begun soliciting candidates for structured feedback from reporting organisations. This includes systematic internal assessment of the strengths and limitations of the June 2000 Guidelines, as well as a commitment to consider preparing a report using the Guidelines. The process commits the Secretariat to providing some support and to publicly recognising participants. To date, more than 15 companies have offered to participate. The deadline for registering company interest is 2 February 2001. This process should conclude by September 2001.

All structured feedback will be carefully considered by the Measurement Working Group, and will be posted on the GRI web site unless we are specifically asked not to post it.

Unstructured Feedback

We recognise that some organisations may prefer to provide written feedback in a format not guided by the Secretariat. We welcome feedback in any form. Again, all such feedback will be carefully considered by the Measurement Working Group, and will be posted on the GRI web site unless we are specifically asked not to post it.

Other Ways to Get Involved

Industry-Specific Reporting Working Groups (formerly "Sector-Specific")

The industries currently under discussion for development of industry-specific reporting guidance are: (1) automobiles, (2) chemicals, (3) mining, (4) financial services (as a reporter), (5) hotels/tourism.

Financial Services Advisory Group

This group’s charge is to raise the profile of sustainability performance information for decision making by mainstream financial services organisations. In contrast to the industry-specific reporting working group above, this is financial services industry as a user of information.

Verification Working Group

This group was formed in 1999 to address issues regarding verification of sustainability reports. Its work is ongoing. Contact: Alan Willis, Chair, Verification Working Group (alan.willis@cica.ca)

Shaping the Future of the GRI

The GRI is on the path toward becoming a permanent, independent institution. The GRI Steering Committee met in London on 1415 December to advance the development of GRIs future governance structure. The Steering Committee discussed the elements of membership or registered stakeholders, stakeholder council, technical advisory council, and Board of Directors. Work is proceeding to more fully define the governance structure and to prepare for legally constituting the new institution by late 2001. Securing a long-term funding base and identifying a location for the future GRI Secretariat are issues currently being tackled.

The GRI Steering Committee, in conjunction with the Secretariat, has also started the process of establishing a Nominating Committee to identify potential candidates for the future GRI Board of Directors. Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute, will chair the Nominating Committee. Information on how to become involved in this open nominating process will be posted on the GRI web site in February.