Our mission and history


GRI envisions a sustainable future enabled by transparency and open dialogue about impacts. This is a future in which reporting on impacts is common practice by all organizations around the world. As provider of world’s most widely used sustainability disclosure standards, we are a catalyst for that change.

Our why, how and what


  • GRI exists to help organizations be transparent and take responsibility for their impacts so that we can create a sustainable future


  • GRI creates the global common language for organizations to report their impacts - which enables informed dialogue and decision making around those impacts


  • We are the global standard setter for impact reporting
  • We follow an independent, multi-stakeholder process
  • We maintain the world’s most comprehensive sustainability reporting standards
  • Our Standards are available as a free public good

Empowering sustainable decisions for over 25 years

On 27 September 2022, we celebrated GRI's 25th birthday. Find out more about how we marked 'GRI-25'.

GRI was founded in Boston (USA) in 1997 following on from the public outcry over the environmental damage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, eight years previously. Our roots lie in the non-profit organizations CERES and the Tellus Institute, with involvement of the UN Environment Programme. The aim was to create the first accountability mechanism to ensure companies adhere to responsible environmental conduct principles, which was then broadened to include social, economic and governance issues.

The first version of what was then the GRI Guidelines (G1) published in 2000 – providing the first global framework for sustainability reporting. The following year, GRI was established as an independent, non-profit institution. In 2002, the GRI's Secretariat relocated to Amsterdam (The Netherlands), and the first update to the Guidelines (G2) launched. As demand for GRI reporting and uptake from organizations steadily grew, the Guidelines were expanded and improved, leading to G3 (2006) and G4 (2013).

With participation in sustainability reporting spreading around the world, GRI started opening a series of regional offices. This led to the current network being established, with locations in Brazil (2007), China (2009), India (2010), USA (2011), South Africa (2013), Colombia (2014) and Singapore (2019). GRI global conferences were held (in Amsterdam) in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2016 - with a focus on more regular regional or virtual events and summits since.

In 2016, GRI transitioned from providing guidelines to setting the first global standards for sustainability reporting – the GRI Standards. The Standards continue to be updated and added to, including new Standards on Tax (2019) and Waste (2020), a major update to the Universal Standards (2021) and the continued roll-out of Sector Standards (2021 onwards).