Global Reporting Initiative

The Global Reporting Initiative (known as GRI) is an international independent standards organization that helps businesses, governments, and other organizations understand and communicate their impacts on issues such as climate change, human rights, and corruption. GRI provides the world's most widely used sustainability reporting standards (the GRI Standards).

Founded1997 Boston, United States
TypeNon-governmental organization
PurposeSustainability reporting
HeadquartersAmsterdam, Netherlands
Region served
Eelco van der Enden
Deputy Chief Executive
Dani Marunovic
Main organ
Secretariat (administrative office) elected by the annual general meeting
AffiliationsOECD, UNEP, United Nations Global Compact, ISO
Formerly called
Global Reporting Initiative

Under increasing pressure from different stakeholder groups, such as governments, consumers and investors ,to be more transparent about their environmental, economic, and social impacts, many companies publish a sustainability report, also known as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) or environmental, social, and governance (ESG) report. GRI's framework for sustainability reporting helps companies identify, gather, and report this information in a clear and comparable manner. First launched in 2000, GRI's sustainability reporting framework is now the most widely used[1] by multinational organizations, governments, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), NGOs, and industry groups in more than 90 countries.[2] In 2017, 63 percent of the largest 100 companies (N100), and 75 percent of the Global Fortune 250 (G250) reported applying the GRI reporting framework.[3]

The most recent of GRI's reporting frameworks are the GRI Standards, launched in October 2016. Developed by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), the GRI Standards are the first global standards for sustainability reporting and are a free public good.[4] In contrast to the earlier reporting frameworks, the GRI Standards have a modular structure, making them easier to update and adapt.[5]


The GRI was formed by the United States-based non-profits Ceres (formerly the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies) and Tellus Institute, with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1997. It released an "exposure draft" version of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines in 1999,[6] the first full version in 2000, and the second version was released at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg—where the organization and the guidelines were also referred to in the Plan of Implementation signed by all attending member states. Later that year, it became a permanent institution. In 2002, GRI moved its secretariat to Amsterdam,[7] Netherlands. Although the GRI is independent, it remains a collaborating center of UNEP and works in cooperation with the United Nations Global Compact.


The "GRI" refers to the global network of many thousands worldwide that create the reporting framework, use it in disclosing their sustainability performance, demand its use by organizations as the basis for information disclosure, or are actively engaged in improving the standard. And examples of good sustainability reporting practices include digitalization of organizations’ supply-chain management, communication strategies and stakeholder relation mechanisms, and implementation of two-way communication strategies that enable sensemaking and sensegiving conjointly.[8]

The network is supported by an institutional side of the GRI, which is made up of the following governance bodies: board of directors, stakeholder council, technical advisory committee, organizational stakeholders, and a secretariat. Diverse geographic and sector constituencies are represented in these governance bodies. The GRI headquarters and secretariat is in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Reporting guidelinesEdit

Standards for guidelinesEdit

The GRI framework aims to enable third parties to assess environmental impact from the activities of the company and its supply chain.[9] The standardized reporting guidelines concerning the environment are contained within the GRI Indicator Protocol Set. The performance indicators (PI) includes criteria on energy, biodiversity and emissions. There are 30 environmental indicators ranging from EN1 (materials used by weight) to EN30 (total environmental expenditures by type of investment).[10]

The 3.1 guideline was updated by the materiality-based 4.0 guideline in 2014, resulting in some commentary regarding comparability.[11]

ESG metricsEdit

Examples of a company's internal and external stakeholders.

Sustainability reporting aims to standardize and quantify the environmental, social and governance costs and benefits derived from the activities of the reporting companies accordingly. Some of the examples of the reporting measures to be used would be the quantified results of the CO2 emissions, working and payment conditions, financial transparency and alike.[12]

For the assessment of the social impact created by the reporting organization, GRI standards were created according to international labor practices and the environmental impact by conducting an independent audit. ISO 14010, ISO 14011, ISO 14012 and ISO 26000 set out a standard for assessing the environmental impact, while OHSAS 18001 lays down a health and safety risk management system. For instance, the ILO's eight core conventions outline specific groups or population that require special attention: women, children, migrant workers and their families, persons belonging to national or ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities. In order to circumvent "greenwashing" or falsified reporting, the financial institution can conduct an independent audit of the investee or enter into a dialogue with the top management of the company in question.[13]

Data PartnersEdit

GRI's Data Partners collect and process information about GRI reporting and sustainability reporting in general. They regularly share data with GRI about reports and reporting organizations, and also serve as on-the-ground hubs, identifying reporting trends in their countries and regions. The report and organization related information provided by Data Partners is added to GRI's Sustainability Disclosure Database.[14]

The GRI data partners' analysis of reports show an increase in GRI reporting worldwide. The official GRI data partner in The United States, The United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland—The Governance & Accountability Institute,[14]

The reporting standards set by the GRI ESG assessment and reporting were developed based on principles set in OECD guidelines for Multinational corporations and UN Guiding Principles.[15]

European Commission DirectiveEdit

In December 2014, EC has adopted a new directive obliging large multinational corporations to provide non-financial disclosure to the markets. The law applies to public companies with more than 500 employees.[16] Companies that would provide such a reporting would be required to report on environmental, social and employee-related, human rights, anti-corruption and bribery matters. Additionally, these large corporations would be required to describe their business model, outcomes and risks of the policies on the above topics, and the diversity policy applied for management and supervisory bodies.[17] The reporting techniques are encouraged to rely on recognized frameworks such as GRI's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, OECD Guidelines, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 26000 and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Tripartite Declaration.[18]


In 2020 GRI decided to discontinue its sustainability disclosure database.[19] The publicly available database had over 63,000 reports spanning nearly 20 years from hundreds of companies. The reports listed in this database are still available from company websites, however.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pedersen, Esben R.G. (2015). Corporate Social Responsibility. London: SAGE Publishing. p. 107. ISBN 9780857022448.
  2. ^ "Global Reporting Initiative - Facts and Figures". Global Reporting Initiative. Archived from the original on 12 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  3. ^ KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2017
  4. ^ "GRI Standards - Download Center". Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Global Reporting Initiative -- Standards".
  6. ^ "Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) presents Exposure Draft of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines | Sustainability-Reports.Com". www.Sustainability-Reports.Com. 1999-03-10.
  7. ^ "Behind the first 15 years of GRI sustainability reporting | GreenBiz.Com". Retrieved 2015-05-28.
  8. ^ Safari, Maryam; Areeb, Amreen (2020-03-15). "A qualitative analysis of GRI principles for defining sustainability report quality: an Australian case from the preparers' perspective". Accounting Forum. 44 (4): 344–375. doi:10.1080/01559982.2020.1736759. ISSN 0155-9982. S2CID 216275669.
  9. ^ Willis, Alan (2003). "The Role of the Global Reporting Initiative's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines in the Social Screening of Investments". Journal of Business Ethics. 43 (3): 233–237. doi:10.1023/A:1022958618391. S2CID 151067260.
  10. ^ GRI. "Indicator Protocol Set" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2011-04-07.
  11. ^ Sebastian Knebel; Peter Seele (2015-04-01). "Quo vadis GRI? A (critical) assessment of GRI 3.1 A+ non-financial reports and implications for credibility and standardization". Corporate Communications. 20 (2): 196–212. doi:10.1108/CCIJ-11-2013-0101. ISSN 1356-3289.
  12. ^ Brown, Halina Szejnwald, Martin De Jong, and Teodorina Lessidrenska. "The rise of the Global Reporting Initiative: a case of institutional entrepreneurship."Environmental Politics 18.2 (2009): 182-200.
  13. ^ Global Reporting Initiative. "Sustainability reporting guidelines: Exposure draft for public comment and pilot-testing." Sustainable Measures: Evaluation and Reporting of Environmental and Social Performance. Vol. 440. No. 474. Greenleaf Publishing in association with GSE Research, 1999. 440-474.
  14. ^ a b "Who Are GRI's Data Partners". The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  15. ^ Solsbach, Andreas, et al. "Inter-organizational Sustainability Reporting–A harmonized XRBL approach based on GRI G4 XBRL and further Guidelines." (2014)
  16. ^, Sebastian. "EU Directive - Europe's largest companies will have to be more transparent about how they operate | News | BSD Consulting". Retrieved 2015-05-28.
  17. ^ Howitt, Richard (2014-04-16). "The EU law on non-financial reporting - how we got there". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-05-28.
  18. ^ "It's the law: Big EU companies must report on sustainability". 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2015-05-28.
  19. ^ Schwery, Rolf. "GRI Database – a valuable tool soon to disappear". SchweryCade}. Retrieved 2021-12-11.

External linksEdit