GRI Standards – An Updated Version

What is the Global Reporting Initiative?

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) was founded in Boston in 1997 in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and provides one of the key building blocks of global sustainability reporting today. By providing a common global language, the Global Reporting Initiative helps organizations and companies take responsibility for their actions and impacts.

What are the GRI Standards?

GRI started in 2000 with GRI Guidelines (G1), which were continuously renewed and updated until 2013 (G4). In 2016, GRI made the leap from providing guidelines to creating the first global sustainability reporting standards – the genesis of the GRI Standards. At their core, the GRI Standards are designed as a modular set that assist organizations in reporting their impact on the environment, economy and people, thereby creating additional transparency. After their revision, the GRI Standards can be broadly divided into three categories:

  • The renewed Universal Standards
  • The new Sector Standards
  • The adapted Topic Standards

The renewed universal standards have been reformed in a way that instead of formerly distinguishing between Core and Comprehensive options, now there is only one way to report in accordance with the GRI Standards. Formerly, the Core option referred to a report that should indicate the minimum information needed to understand the nature of the organization, its related impacts and material topics. The Comprehensive option was seen as an extension to the Core option by requiring additional disclosures on the organization’s governance, ethics and integrity, as well as strategy.

What are the Updated Universal Standards?

The regular revision of the standards allows increasing the consistency, quality as well as completeness of the reporting of organizations. The version introduced in October 2021, which will come into force on the first of January 2023, includes reporting on human rights, as well as environmental due diligence in line with intergovernmental expectations. The cooperation of the GRI with the United Nations and the OECD is a key motive of the renewed universal standards.