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G4: the next phase
05 December 2012

In December and January, GRI’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will meet to discuss the updated recommendations of the G4 Working Groups, following the Public Comment Periods (PCPs) held from June to November 2012.
​The G4 project – the development of the fourth generation of GRI’s Guidelines – has been underway since 2010. The results of two PCPs have already been analyzed. Now the next phase of the development process is underway.

From June to September, the public was invited to comment on an Exposure Draft of G4, which proposed changes to the following areas: Application Levels, Boundary, Disclosure on Management Approach (DMA), Governance and Remuneration and Supply Chain. From August to November, the public was again invited to comment on proposed thematic revisions on reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Anti-Corruption.

The open PCPs, diverse expert Working Groups, and GRI’s approval procedures aim to ensure that G4’s guidance is consensus-based and reflects the broadest possible stakeholder input. During the first and second PCPs, a total of 2498 formal feedback submissions were made by sustainability experts, reporting entities, information users and other professionals. 99 submissions were made to the Additional Public Comment Period for G4 Thematic Revisions. Moreover, 2219 people participated in 68 workshops around the world to provide input for G4, reflecting the growing global interest in sustainability reporting.

Given the record number of responses, and the substantive nature of the feedback received, at its recent meeting GRI’s Board of Directors (BoD) decided to extend the period for Working Groups and governance bodies to finalize the document.

The results of the Second G4 PCP have now been analyzed by GRI’s G4 development team from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. The analysis covers general impressions of the G4 Exposure Draft, as well as the updated items for DMA, Governance and Remuneration, Supply Chain and the Boundary of a GRI report.

The qualitative analysis was compiled from the submissions received through the online GRI Consultation Platform and offline submissions via email or post. Summaries of the workshops were also assessed. Each and every component of the submitted feedback was read and analyzed by the G4 development team, and categorized into themes for each content area.

A number of clear patterns have already been identified. Among these are recommendations that the G4 draft be improved in terms of focus, simplicity and clarity, and that it provide better support to small businesses and beginner reporters. Four Working Groups have discussed the feedback and submitted amended recommendations to GRI’s TAC - the governance body with oversight of Framework development. The GHG and Anti-Corruption Working Groups are in the process of discussing the feedback on these areas, and will submit their recommendations at the end of December.

The PCP feedback and updated recommendations will now be discussed by the TAC, alongside a full draft of the new Guidelines.

GRI’s other governance bodies – the Stakeholder Council (SC) and Board of Directors - will then meet in February to discuss the full draft. The Secretariat’s task is to implement the feedback after the governance body meetings.

The TAC and SC will then cast a concur/non-concur vote and submit the outcome as advice to the Board. The Board will take the final decision on whether to approve or not approve G4 for launch. G4 is planned to be launched at GRI’s Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting in Amsterdam in May 2013.

GRI’s Board has decided to set up a transition period of two years for reporters to progress from G3/G3.1 to G4. During this time, all reports based on G3, G3.1 and G4 will be recognized as GRI reports.

In the first eight months of the transition period (June 2013 to January 2014), GRI will actively seek feedback on G4 through a structured survey from its first users. This will monitor the implementation of G4 with a view to providing additional or improved guidance as needed. The recommendations for improvement will be carefully analyzed and synthesized by the Secretariat. GRI’s governance bodies will review the proposed technical improvements before they are presented in June 2014.

Find out more about the G4 development process.