GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) is an internationally recognized standard to report on sustainability topics, and to structure a sustainability report. On October 19th, the GRI G4 Guidelines have officially transitioned to GRI Standards.
What are the main differences/changes?
- The Standards aimed at restructuring the G4 Guidelines, it was not about adding new contents. As such, there is new modular structure. Now the Standards are composed of three main universal standards and 33 topic-specific standards
- Before, companies reported on Specific Standard Disclosure. These include the DMA (disclosure on management approach), which was a description of how a given topic is managed, and quantitative indicators. Now, all management-related descriptions will be included under GRI 301: Management approach.
- The naming of the disclosures has changed, with new unique identifiers based on the number of the standard. For example: Disclosure G4-10 is now 102-8 (located in GRI 102: General Disclosures)
- Some disclosures have been moved. For example, the disclosures on grievance mechanisms are now incorporated under GRI 103 – Management and are not part of the topic-specific standards. A mapping file has been made.
- The vocabulary is simplified: organizations can clearly understand what are the requirements using the word “shall” whereas recommendations are indicated with “should”. Further guidance is also provided.
- Some concepts have been clarified like the Boundary. The topic Boundary now describes where the impacts occur for each material topic, and the organization’s involvement with the impacts.
- General contents have been edited for clearer language: indicator now is disclosure (covers both qualitative and quantitative disclosure); aspect is now topic (and includes topics not covered by the Standards).
Great flexibility in how to use the standards
- Companies can still prepare a report in accordance with the standards. It mainly means that the reporting principles have been applied and the organization has identified and reported on all material topics.
- For the organizations not matching the inaccordance options, the status is now clarified: Selected Standards can be used. This is called a GRI-reference claim and GRI must be notified.
What did not change from GRI G4 Guidelines?
- The Reporting Principles are still a key element of the Standards.
- The Materiality principle, e.g. reporting on topic which are important both for the company and the stakeholder, remain one of the pillar of the Standards
- It is still required to notify GRI of the use of the Standards.
- The contents of the disclosures mainly remain the same.
What are the next steps?
- For your 2017 (calendar year 2016) report, you can either use the G4 Guidelines or the new Standards. Earlier adoption is encouraged.
- G4 Guidelines remain in effect until 1st of July 2018
- Contents are to be translated into other languages, including German, in the first half of 2017.
- A mapping with CDP methodology is to be released.
Which resources are at your disposal?
- The new Standards are available here.
- Mapping with G4 Guidelines
- Live or recorded webinars
- Resource page of GRI Standards
DFGE is also happy to support you with its GRI offer. We carry out the materiality principle and prepare the contents to update your current CSR report so that it can easily transition to GRI.