Sustainability reporting standards

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Over the past decades, many initiatives have started to focus on better disclosure by companies. One of the main sustainability reporting standards was developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an independent organization founded in the US in 1997 and now headquartered in Amsterdam.

It lists 36 standards that companies should try to meet, ranging from its carbon footprint, waste and effect on biodiversity (E) to occupational health and safety, non-discrimination and local rights (S), and policies for anti-corruption, competitive practices and tax payments (G).

GRI standards have now been adopted in 90 countries, though not all 36 items will be applicable on a case-by-case basis. Other organisations offer more bespoke reporting standards and services for client members. These include the Carbon Disclosure Project, which encourages companies to calculate their environmental impact and has various tools to facilitate this.

Of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) has a specific target, 12.6, which encourages companies “to adopt sustainable practices and sustainability reporting””. Many sustainability reports are compiled as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) documents issued under the guidelines outlined in the ISO 26000 of 2010 covering the basic requirements.

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Global Reporting Standards