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GRI STANDARDS: all you need to know right now

The GRI standards are the most popular sustainability reporting standards worldwide. They keep on evolving to remain in line with internationally recognized best practices and reflect recent developments, particularly standards and regulations.

Discover the new certification training program

The “GRI Professional Certification Program” has just been launched, building up a full sustainability curriculum that delivers globally applicable professional development. The program is provided by the GRI Academy in a pre-recorded format or live by the network of GRI training partners, such as Forethix, and includes a certification exam. The learning path includes 5 fundamental elements:

Candidates who have been granted 5 points and passed the final exam will benefit from the status of “GRI certified sustainability professionals” for 1 year – the status may be maintained provided they complete a minimum of training hours during the year.

Start the learning path registering here to our GRI certified training course.

Adopt the new standard encouraging tax transparency

Launched at the end of 2019, the GRI Tax 207 (2019) standard will come into force for reports and other documents published from January 2021. It allows organizations to report on tax practices, strategy, governance and risk management. The standard introduces a country-by-country reporting on business activities, income, profits and taxes; and also calls for justifying differences between tax regimes.

Download the standard here

Transition to new versions of topic-specific standards

To stay as close as possible to changes in standards and regulations as well as best practices around the world, GRI periodically reviews its standards. The first versions were defined in 2016 and enforced in 2018, transitioning away from the G4 version. Organizations always have a transition period, but be sure to raise awareness among your teams as soon as possible to ensure the availability and quality of your data. The latest releases are:

GRI 403 – Occupational Health & Safety (2018)

Developed in 2018, the standard will be mandatory from January 2021. It mainly aims to align better with the ILO (International Labor Organization) instruments and the ISO 45001 standard, to understand better the impact of the organization through a new, more precise definition of the term “workers” referring to employees, workers whose workplace is controlled by the organization and those affected by the organization’s business relationships (suppliers, partners, etc.). The new standard also takes a more holistic approach by further covering health promotion and lifestyle risks. Finally, the notion of hierarchy of controls has been introduced to encourage a systematic approach to improve health and safety, eliminate hazards and reduce risks.

GRI 303 – Water & effluents (2018)

Defined in 2018, the standard will be mandatory from January 2021. It mainly aims to better align with the CEO Water Mandate Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines and the CDP questionnaire 2018 relating to water but also to better understand the quality of the discharged water (indicator initially present in GRI 306: Effluents and waste 2016), water consumption (new indicator measuring water not returned back to the environment), geographic sensitivity (with an emphasis on impacts within areas under water stress) and impacts in the supply chain.

GRI 306 – Waste (2020)

Developed in 2020, the standard will be mandatory from January 2022. Its main purpose is to better reflect the relationship between materials and waste, in order to help organizations understand how procurement, design and use of materials lead to waste-related impacts and identify opportunities for circularity and waste prevention. It encourages organizations to assess the waste generated throughout the value chain, prompting them to recognize responsibility for upstream and downstream waste-related impacts. The standard helps identify management decisions and actions that can lead to systemic change.

Download the standards here. They all converge towards a deepened description of the managerial approach to precisely report on the mechanisms and systems of identification, prevention, mitigation and remediation of the direct and indirect impacts of the organization throughout its value chain.

The current revisions focus on the subject of Human Rights and are being established in two phases:

Remember that the GRI standards due process, governed by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), includes a public consultation so that you can provide your feedback from the field.

Find out more here

Dive into the relevance of your reporting with sector standards

Sector standards provide information on likely material topics for an organization in a given industry. These topics have been identified through a transparent and multi-stakeholder process, and are based on recognized instruments. Any organization in the sector will have to take these standards into account when preparing reports. If an organization identifies a topic as material in an applicable sector standard, the sector standard will also help it determine what to report, using the topic-specific standards, for that topic.

The sector standards under development are:

G4 Sector supplements (developed for the GRI G4 Guidelines) can provide additional sector information that can be used in conjunction with the GRI Standards. Please note that the content of these has not been updated as part of the transition from the G4 guidelines to the GRI standards.

Prepare for the upcoming universal standards

The universal standards – GRI 101 I GRI 102 I GRI 103 – are under review and should be published in mid-2021, depending on the number of comments received during the public consultation until September 2020. Here is an overview of the main expected changes:

GRI 101: Foundations

GRI 102: General disclosures

Changes in structure and content will be carried out:

GRI 103 : Management approach

Changes in structure and content will be carried out:

    1. Identification of material topics and related impacts (MT-1)

This disclosure covers content from the existing GRI 102-46 (defining report content and topic Boundaries) and 102-49 (changes to the list of material topics). It now requires further information on how the organization has identified its impacts, how it has prioritized them for reporting based on their significance, and the stakeholders and experts whose views have informed the identification of material topics.

    1. Material topics and related impacts (MT-2)

This disclosure covers content from the existing 102-47 (list of material topics) and 103-1 (explanation of the material topic and its Boundary). In addition, it now requires a description of the impacts identified for each material topic. The term ‘topic Boundary’ is no longer used, but the standard now requires the organization to report, for each material topic, whether it is involved with the negative impacts through its own activities or as a result of its business relationships.

    1. Management of material topics and related impacts (MT-3)

This disclosure covers content from the existing 103-2 (the management approach and its components) and 103-3 (evaluation of the management approach). It now requires additional information on actions taken to prevent, mitigate, and remediate negative impacts (in line with the expectation of due diligence), as well as information on engagement with stakeholders.

Find out more here

Note: The following Topic-specific Standards will be superseded by the revised Universal Standards: