On Wednesday, the GRI announced the launch of the world's first Global Reporting Standards for sustainability reporting. These new standards give businesses large and small a common language for reporting non-financial information.
They dovetail with recent global initiatives, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, in advancing integrated, un-siloed cooperation and transparency to address common challenges for a world in transition.
An MIT Sloan blog post entitled Investing for a Sustainable Future emphasizes this research, cautioning executives of the risks of ignoring this new investment landscape, writing:
"Investors see a strong link between corporate sustainability performance and financial performance — so they’re using sustainability-related data as a rationale for investment decisions like never before ... It is time for corporate leaders to recognize that an increasing number of shareholders are (literally) invested in whether a company’s ESG activities connect with its financial success. customers, investors, and stakeholders shift."
Business reflects the society within which it operates. Without a common framework to assess these important non-financial values, businesses risk losing their social license to operate. GRI provides that framework.
"The GRI Standards make it much easier for companies to report non-financial information, using a well-understood shared language,” GRI interim chief executive, Eric Hespenheide, said in a press release.
“The Standards are more straightforward, making them accessible to potentially millions of businesses worldwide. Sustainability reporting, using the GRI Standards, is the best way for a company to disclose its economic, environmental and social impacts, thus providing insights into its contributions – positive or negative – toward sustainable development.”
The GRI Standards were set by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), an independent standard-setting organization. A cross-section of global society, including business, labor, government, investors, civil society and sustainability practitioners, informed its development.
“Collaborating across the public and private sector, we designed these standards to guide sustainability reporting for any company, in any industry, for decades to come.” said Michael Nugent, vice chair of the GSSB.
Never have the broad themes of the Brundtland report been more relevant than today. Despite the growing urgency for action, never has there been a greater opportunity to realize those aspirations. Evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, the past 18 months could arguably be among the most transformative periods of progress in human history, at least in terms of global cooperation for common cause.
Consider the following:
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Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of GlobalWarmingisReal.com and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists