GRI Commits to the 2030 Agenda with a new Sustainable Development Strategy
03 February 2016

​Today, GRI announced its five-year sustainable development strategy, which outlines how the organization will chart the path towards greater sustainable development over the coming years. 
​GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, which form the cornerstone of GRI’s work, provide a global understanding and knowledge base on sustainable development. As a pioneer in the sustainability reporting field, GRI has supported the rapid uptake of sustainability reporting in developing countries over the last decade. As the Strategy highlights, in 2000, GRI was aware of just 5 sustainability reports from companies in developing countries. By 2014, this figure had grown to over 1,700. 

In addition to providing capacity building on reporting, in the form of training programs, GRI has also been active on the policy front, playing a key role in the formation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which were launched in 2015. 

A new strategy for sustainable development
With the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda now fully in place, the time has come to update GRI’s own sustainable development strategy to align our efforts with the increased focus on sustainable development through business action. 

“This updated strategy comes at a timely moment in the evolution of sustainable development,” explains GRI Deputy Chief Executive Teresa Fogelberg. “There is now an accepted understanding that governments are no longer the only responsible agent in building sustainable societies. Corporate actors and the private sector are crucial in creating green and fair growth outcomes and sustainable development.” 

This is where GRI and the sustainability reporting process serve as powerful agents for change. Increased disclosure on environmental, social and economic impacts by organizations leads to greater transparency which helps to inform better decision making. This helps to build trust with stakeholders, and ultimately paves the way for a more sustainable economy and world. 

The role of business in sustainable development
Sustainability reporting is embedded into Sustainable Development Goal 12, which aims for “sustainable consumption and production patterns”. Target 12.6 calls for advancing sustainability reporting worldwide and supporting responsible business practices. 

Businesses are already using sustainability reporting as a key tool to contribute to sustainable development and to publicly communicate their progress against the SDGs. Find out how GRI is helping business monitor and communicate their actions towards the realization of the SDGs in this news article. The role of business goes further than monitoring their impacts however. Businesses are expected to contribute to the 2030 Agenda by stimulating economic growth and creating jobs, providing investment and finance and shaping innovative solutions to global challenges. 

Fostering inclusive development and sustainable growth
GRI strives to fulfill its sustainable development goal of fostering inclusive development and sustainable, green, economic growth by working on these four key objectives:

  • Sustainable development policy: GRI will enable and strengthen local and international policy surrounding sustainable development and sustainability reporting. 
  • Increasing and improving reporting in developing countries: GRI will work towards making reporting relevant for all stakeholders, in particular in developing countries, including those stakeholders who are underserved such as small and medium-sized enterprises, community leaders and advocacy groups.
  • Transformative Capacity Building: GRI will continue to build the capacity of institutions, businesses, governments and communities to be more aware of corporate responsibility by looking for new partnerships, engagements and training opportunities, and empowering the beneficiaries and intended users of reported data.
  • Innovation in emerging issues: GRI will provide clarity and guidance on emerging topics and issues to policy makers and corporations.

The four objectives have two distinctive supporting blocks: GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, and the wealth of data from the reporting process which GRI plans to liberate through the Sustainability Data Platform. Both provide the technical backbone and expertise to GRI’s sustainable development program of work.

A broad program of work
Here is a snapshot of some of the work GRI will be focusing on as part of its broad sustainable development program:

  • Cultivating new partnerships and deepening existing ones with UN agencies, governments, stock markets, and other international NGOs on sustainable development
  • Implementing the SDG Compass, joint initiative from the UNGC, WBCSD and GRI which provides guidance for companies on how they can align their strategies as well as measure and manage their contribution to the realization of the SDGs.
  • Expanding the services of Regional Hubs in developing regions
  • Developing public education campaigns and communications
  • Facilitate use of big data from the private sector to solve development issues
  • Pioneering new approaches to quantify the transformational impact of sustainability reporting.

With its renewed sustainable development strategy, and detailed action plan covering all four objectives above, GRI aims to lay the groundwork for broader, transformational change to occur, resulting in a more inclusive, sustainable, and green global economy. 

GRI’s Sustainable Development program of work is supported by several governments including Australia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK.