The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a leading international organisation that sets standards for sustainability reporting, which provides a framework for companies to report on their economic, environmental, and social performance. As the Singapore Exchange (SGX) requires issuers to select a sustainability reporting framework to guide their reporting and disclosure, GRI Standards is one of the six major reporting frameworks in the published guidance material.

In 2021, GRI published the updated Universal Standards, setting a new global benchmark for sustainability reporting, which are in effect for reporting from 1 January 2023.

The Development of GRI Standards

The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards aim to boost an organisation to disclose its contributions or plans of sustainable development comprehensively, through enhancing the reporting transparency and accountability by facilitating an organisation to illustrate its most material impacts on the economy, environment, and people and its way of management.

Any organisation, regardless of size, type, geographic location, or reporting experience, can refer to the GRI Standards to report information about its impacts on the economy, environment, and people. While the latest Universal Standards are applicable to all organisations, organisations are also advised to select specific Sector Standards according to the sectors in which they operate, and the Topic Standards according to their list of material issues identified.

The Updated GRI Standards 2021

The update is significant for companies that are committed to transparency and sustainability. Companies that use the GRI Standards to report on their sustainability performance will need to comply with the new standards to ensure the accuracy and completeness of their reporting.

Key Changes 1 – New reporting options of “in accordance with” and “with reference to”

Under the new standard, organisations can only report either in accordance with the GRI Standards or with reference to the GRI Standards.

In accordance with
The organisation must comply with all nine requirements below to report in accordance with the GRI Standards.

Requirement 1: Apply all the reporting principles specified in section 4 of GRI 1: Foundation 2021

Requirement 2: Report all the disclosures in GRI 2: General Disclosures 2021

Requirement 3: Determine material topics

Requirement 4: Report the disclosures in GRI 3: Material Topics 2021

Requirement 5: Report disclosures from the GRI Topic Standards for each material topic

Requirement 6: Provide reasons for omission for disclosures and requirements that the organisation cannot comply with

Requirement 7: Publish a GRI content index

Requirement 8: Provide a statement of use in its GRI content index

Requirement 9: Notify GRI of the use of the GRI Standards and the statement

With reference to
The organisation can select suitable GRI Standards (or parts of their content) while strictly complying with the three requirements below to report information with reference to the GRI Standards.

Requirement 1: Publish a GRI content index

Requirement 2: Provide a statement of use in its GRI content index

Requirement 3: Notify GRI of the use of the GRI Standards and the statement

Key Changes 2 – Replacing the former GRI 101, GRI 102 and GRI 103 with a new series, including Foundation 2021 (GRI 1), General Disclosures 2021 (GRI 2) and Material Topics Disclosures 2021 (GRI 3)

Key Changes 3 – Incorporating human rights into universal disclosure

The updated GRI 2: General Disclosures includes the integration of human rights reporting, requiring organisations to describe its policy commitments to respect human rights. Human rights reporting has become a mandatory element when reporting in accordance with GRI Standards, as it is no longer an optional, stand-alone topic Standard (what was GRI 412).

Key Changes 4 – Applying new Sector Standards

When an applicable Sector Standard is available, an organisation reporting in accordance with the GRI Standards is required to apply the corresponding standard.

The following Sector Standards are mandatory per 1 January 2023:

  • GRI 11 (Oil and Gas Sector 2021)
  • GRI 12 (Coal Sector 2022)

The following Sector Standards are mandatory per 1 January 2024:

  • GRI 13 (Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fishing sectors 2022)

Key Changes 5 – Rearranging Topic Standards

GRI has also updated the Topic Standards, with now being 31 separate Topic Standards that should be followed when reporting on Material Topics and eliminated the original groupings of 200 (Economic), 300 (Environmental) and 400 (Social).

GRI Reporting Management

Reporting under GRI standards can be complicated and trivial, therefore project management is essential.

What GreenCo can do for you

As a GRI Community Member for years, GreenCo’s team of experts has extensive experience in GRI Standards compliance and can help clients work with the new standards and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Our team can guide you through the GRI reporting journey by providing a thorough introduction to the GRI standards, conducting a gap analysis to understand your GRI standards compliance, undertaking data collection and analysis as required and enhancing the disclosure following the GRI requirements.

Whether your organisation is just a beginner in GRI reporting, or you are already an advanced practitioner, don’t hesitate to contact us and see how we can help you create a sustainability report that best showcases your company’s ESG performance in accordance with/ with reference to the GRI Standards.

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