Revised sustainability framework looks to cut out ‘tick box reporting’



The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has released G4, an updated edition of the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world.

G4, which was unveiled to an audience of 1,600 at its 2013 Global Conference at the Amsterdam Stock Exchange on Wednesday, aims to encourage sustainable business while promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Ernst Ligteringen, chief executive of the GRI, said, “In a business world where international borders have been reduced to mere lines on a map, and multinationals’ supply chains criss-cross the globe, it is now more apparent than ever that the world needs global transparency.

And that means one thing: a global sustainability reporting language; a universally understood way of reporting companies’ sustainability performance and impacts.”

The latest stage of the GRI guidelines are published after the organisation conducted a consultation among 2,500 stakeholders, working groups and members of the public.

It is designed to reflect important current and future trends in the sustainability reporting industry, and to improve a company’s credibility by being more transparent to investors with regards to environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.

Ligteringen added, “Sustainability reporting is about strategy. First, to help business report to markets, and how key sustainability issues relate to its impacts and results.

Second, to report on what business does to advance sustainable development goals, in pursuit of a fair and just society, an economy that serves people, and a sustainable relation with our natural environment.

So sustainability reporting must be a strategic and a purposeful exercise, not an exercise in who can tick the most boxes.”

Ty Lee, senior analyst at WHEB Asset Management, recently wrote how we must crack the chicken-and-egg problem between companies and investors when it comes to sustainability reporting.

Further reading:

Lies, damned lies and sustainability reports

CSR and sustainability practices found to boost public perception of firms

CSR is about ‘having mechanisms to fix market inequalities or injustices’

Investment reports reveal widespread use of ESG integration

The Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility 2013


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