Today, firms and governments must grapple, among others, with the issues of climate change, human rights, institutional governance and social welfare. The future won´t look particularly rosy for those who fail to adjust to the upcoming economic transition from mere consumeristic production to eco-friendly prosperity. Luckily, no one is left alone at this critical stage.
Founded in 1997, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an Amsterdam-based international organization which develops guidelines for businesses, governments as well as non-governmental organisations, in view of the creation of sustainability reports. The aim is to help stakeholders throughout their progress towards sustainable development. Aside from a set of universal directives, the GRI standards are divided into three categories: economic, environmental and social standards. Once drawn up, they have been subsequently released from the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB). What are the three fundamental principles that form the very bedrock of such reports?
“The practice of disclosing sustainability information inspires accountability, helps identify and manage risks, and enables organizations to seize new opportunities.”1
Accurate data enable better decision making for companies as well as for governmental institutions. The GRI mission statement is in fact “To empower decisions that create social, environmental and economic benefits for everyone.” 2
In order to overcome sustainability challenges, the benchmarks must be defined in detail. To this end, the GRI has set itself a clear objective:
“Harmonize the sustainability landscape: Make GRI the central hub for sustainability reporting frameworks and initiatives and select collaboration and partnership opportunities that serve GRI’s vision and mission.” 3
With three subject areas and overall 120 indicators, the GRI promotes standardisation, a crucial factor with respect to effective reporting and tangible advancement. Moreover, aside from classic indicators, there are also the so-called sector guidances which have been specially devised for the more specific industries of transport and logistics. In addition to the GRI framework, other standards such as the Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitskodex (DNK) have been created to serve the same purpose, yet, though equally praiseworthy, they tend to be less extensive than GRI guidelines.
“Of the world’s largest 250 corporation, 93% report on their sustainability performance and 82% of these use GRI’s Standards to do so.” 4 The message is clear: only if we act in unison do we have a better chance of counteracting ecological damage.
So, why should companies tackle this topic as soon as possible? Because directives that are now only “participatory practices” will soon be turned into real policies. And because a positive social and ecological footprint ensures an increase in profits in the long run.
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