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Taking GRI’s new vision ‘Down Under’
02 December 2015
Michael Meehan, Chief Executive, GRI; and Leeora Black, Managing Director, ACCSR

​Australia’s sustainability network got up close and personal with GRI’s Chief Executive Michael Meehan at a series of events in Melbourne and Sydney in November. Conversations with GRI’s Organizational Stakeholders and over 250 others, sparked discussions around the recent announcement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of business.
Michael Meehan highlighted the need for robust and credible ways to measure the impact of business contribution if the SDGs are to be achieved – namely through sustainability reporting. The discussions also looked ahead to the forthcoming Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris, and the need for a crucial international binding agreement on climate change. Climate change represents significant risks for businesses but also presents innovation opportunities. Michael spoke of the value of using GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards which are globally accepted and incorporate a multi-stakeholder approach for businesses to position themselves to better manage the risks and opportunities presented by climate change.
 
New guidance for ASX Listed Companies
During the visit, GRI, together with partners KPMG Australia and CPA Australia, announced new guidance on using the GRI G4 Guidelines to comply with ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. The publication “Resource for ASX listed companies” demonstrates how the G4 Guidelines relate to the third version of ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Principles and Recommendations which require listed companies to address economic, environmental and social sustainability risks.

GRI’s new community leader in Australia, Sustainable Business Australia’s (SBA), welcomed Michael Meehan to their annual CEO Forum. Michael spoke about trust, and the importance of credible data as a basis for earning the trust of stakeholders. Organizations need to understand and communicate their impacts on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, corruption and many others. This transparency helps build the trust in businesses and governments that financial institutions, labor organizations, civil society, and citizens require.

Reporting in the extractives sector
GRI has an ongoing partnership with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to increase corporate transparency across Southeast Asia, among sectors like the extractives, and on key topics like gender and corruption. As part of this program, Michael Meehan and GRI’s, Knowledge and Sustainable Development Director, Alyson Slater, joined around 30 people from the extractives industry and interested stakeholders such as NGOs investors, associations and industry regulators for a roundtable dialogue. This roundtable analyzed trends in reporting in this sector and mapped these against key sustainability issues and stakeholder concerns. The main findings were that the least reported issues were mainly social, such as human rights, community issues and those relating to supply or value chains. Areas that are harder to quantify or have complex boundary issues present the most significant challenges.
 
The roundtable will contribute to forthcoming research in 2016 conducted in partnership with EY Australia on reporting in the extractives sector.