‘Next step’ in sustainability reporting to be unveiled in May, says GRI

Source: Global Reporting Initiative, 18 April 2013

The next generation of the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines – G4 – will be unveiled next month, it was confirmed today.
The latest evolution of the GRI Guidelines – now the most widely used comprehensive sustainability reporting framework in the world – was approved by GRI’s Board of Directors today. It will be launched at GRI’s 2013 Global Conference on Sustainability Reporting in Amsterdam on May 22 before an audience of 1500 thought leaders and practitioners from around the globe.

The GRI Guidelines enable all companies and organizations to report on their economic, environmental, social and governance performance. G4 has been significantly revised and enhanced in order to reflect important current and future trends in the sustainability reporting landscape.

In addition to enhancing the relevance and quality of standalone sustainability reports, G4 will be a powerful tool for generating material sustainability information for inclusion in integrated reports.

GRI Chief Executive Ernst Ligteringen said: “Today, sustainability reporting is rapidly becoming the norm for large companies in many parts of the world. Some 95% of the world’s largest 250 companies now produce a sustainability report, and four out of five of these choose to use the GRI guidelines.

“As this strong upward trend in reporting continues, we will see many more companies of all sizes and sectors embracing transparency and accountability. Sustainability reporting will become a key enabler for an ever wider range of stakeholders, including investors, governments and market regulators. G4 is designed to be relevant to all these groups and to the many new reporters coming on stream.”

By placing an even greater emphasis on the concept of materiality, G4 will encourage reporting organizations to provide only disclosures and indicators that are material to their business, on the basis of a dialogue with their stakeholders. This will allow reporting organizations and report users alike to concentrate on the economic, environmental, and social impacts that really matter, resulting in reports that are more strategic, more focused and more credible, as well as easier for stakeholders to navigate.

GRI Chairman Herman Mulder added: “As well as strengthening sustainability reporting, the launch of G4 represents an important contribution to the long term aim of achieving a globally accepted integrated reporting framework.

“There is growing understanding among investors of the role that sustainability reporting can play in revealing the true value of a business, and a robust integrated report is one which has sustainability at its heart. The G4 Guidelines are designed to help an organization demonstrate that it has an integrated and sustainable strategy that includes its people, the natural resources it uses, and the integrity of its supply chain.”

The decision of the GRI Board marks the culmination of two years of extensive stakeholder consultation and dialogue as part of a strict and transparent due process. Working Groups from across the world, comprising 120 specialists from constituencies as diverse as labor, business and civil society, have contributed. Two public consultation periods in 2011 and 2012 generated a total of more than 3,000 responses.

Other key enhancements in G4 include increased user-friendliness and greater accessibility to those new to reporting, and harmonization with other important global frameworks, including the OECD MNE Guidelines, the United Nations Global Compact Principles, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.