A Stronger Foundation for Impact Driven Reporting

Public comment period begins for updated Universal Standards
Jun 11, 2020 8:45 AM ET
Press Release

June 11, 2020 /3BL Media/ - Changes to improve how organizations use the GRI Standards to disclose their impacts on the economy, environment and people have been made available for global consultation.

From today (11 June), a three-month public comment period is underway to gather feedback on an exposure draft that revises the Universal Standards. In the biggest update since GRI transitioned in 2016 from providing guidelines to setting globally applicable standards, the proposed changes to the foundations of all reporting through GRI seek to ensure companies show full transparency for their impacts on sustainable development.  

The updates to the three Universal Standards include:

  • A more focused approach to identifying material topics, based on the organization’s most significant impacts.
  • Updated content covering responsible business conduct and due diligence, including respect for human rights.
  • Revising how organizations use the GRI Standards for their sustainability reporting, with clearly set out requirements and a new structure. 

Judy Kuszewski, Chair of GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), said:

“The GSSB initiated this review because we want to ensure the GRI Standards are as relevant and comprehensive as possible, while reflecting the latest developments in responsible business and respect for human rights.

Importantly, the Universal Standards apply to all organizations that report their impacts based on the GRI Standards. As such they have a crucial role in our efforts to not only increase uptake in sustainability reporting but also to improve quality and comparability.

With multi-stakeholder collaboration at the heart of our standard setting, we encourage groups and individuals around the world to take part in this public comment period – and help us continue to deliver standards that drive action in support of sustainable development.”

The public comment period for the Universal Standards is open from 11 June until 9 September 2020.

The three Universal Standards in this review are as follows:

  • GRI 101: to be renamed from Foundation to Using the GRI Standards. Introduces the GRI Standards system and explains how they are used.
  • GRI 102: changing from General Disclosures to About the Organization. Covers disclosures for contextual information about the reporting organization.
  • GRI 103: currently Management Approach, this will be renamed Material Topics. Includes guidance for identifying material topics, with disclosures on reporting how they are managed.

Reporting companies start with the Universal Standards before selecting from Topic Standards, based on their identified material topics. An additional series of Sector Standards are under development.

The GSSB initiated the review of the Universal Standards in March 2019, to support the continuous improvement of the GRI Standards and respond to the review of GRI’s human rights related Standards. The exposure draft was developed with extensive consultation with stakeholders and experts in 2019 and 2020.

The revisions increase alignment between the GRI Standards and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD’s guidelines and tools on responsible business conduct.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the independent international organization that helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate their impacts. The GRI Standards are the world’s most widely used for sustainability reporting.