The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards for short) are a set of interlinked standards designed to help organisations to produce a sustainability report and thus account for their economic, environmental and social impacts.
Background & history of origins
These standards were developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an international non-profit organization whose goal is to develop and disseminate a global framework for sustainability reporting.
For the time being, the GRI standards are the last step in a long series that goes back to the publication of the first guidelines in 1999. In 2016, in order to be able to react more quickly and flexibly to changing stakeholder expectations, GRI decided to design the guidelines as a series of modular standards. This allows GRI to adapt individual standards at regular intervals without having to update the entire framework.
The dissemination and application of the GRI standards should lead to more relevant, credible and user-friendly reporting. High-quality reporting is, therefore, one that enables internal and external stakeholders to form an opinion and make informed decisions about an organisation’s contribution to sustainable development. In addition, the application of the standards should also increase the comparability and quality of the information disclosed.
The framework is composed of four series of standards: Series 100 consists of three universal standards that describe the general principles of reporting, request contextual information and require organisations to disclose the management approach to specific sustainability aspects.
Series 200 contains the indicators for all economic topics.
The 300 series covers environmental topics.
The 400 series covers all social topics.
A sustainability report according to the GRI standards is a report that contains the requirements of the three general standards as well as information on those topics that are essential for understanding sustainability performance.
However, companies that only wish to provide information on specific topics have the option of reporting according to a single selected standard in combination with standard 103. For example, if a company wishes to report on human rights compliance without addressing other issues, it can now use the issue-specific Standard 103 and disclose the management approach without reference to the overall framework.
The Global Reporting Initiative provides the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world today, with several thousand reporting organisations in over 90 countries.