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G4 Guidelines Interpretations

The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) has issued interpretations regarding the G4 Guidelines. All interpretations are listed on this webpage, by date of issue. They are also listed at the end of the G4 Guidelines.

For more information on the interpretation process please see the GSSB Terms of Reference and Due Process Protocol.


 Interpretation 1

Interpretation on the relevance of the external assurance column in the GRI Content Index for reporting “in accordance”

Date of issue: 5 August

References: G4-32, G4-33

The interpretation addresses the following issues:

How an organization should report on external assurance in order to report “in accordance” with the G4 Guidelines


Feedback suggested that providing information for each disclosure, whether it has been externally assured or not, is confusing to reporters and does not necessarily add value provided in this format in the Content Index. The assurance statement included in the sustainability report, in combination with reporting against G4-33 should include sufficient information regarding the assurance approach and any limitations regarding the assurance process.
Interpretation Statement

Reporters should keep in mind that the language used in external assurance reports is not always understood. Any important information that is necessary to clarify what has and what has not been assured and on what basis, including e.g., the assurance standards used, the level of assurance obtained  and potential limitations of the assurance process, should be included in broadly accessible language under General Standard Disclosure G4-33.
The reporting organization should include a reference to the external assurance report, if any, under G4-32c.

When the external assurance column in the Content Index is filled out, the information provided should be clear and avoid the use of language that can be ambiguous or misleading.

It is not required to fill out the column on assurance in the Content Index in order to report “in accordance” with G4.