kicks off with a comprehensive address by GRI Chief Executive Ernst Ligteringen, who discusses the continuing growth of sustainability reporting and of public interest in corporate transparency.
Ligteringen also signals the Report’s intention to ‘drill down’ from the global to the specific: that is, to analyze GRI’s work from strategic level to sustainability impact level and, finally, to operational level. This focus on strategic context includes increased coverage of policy, and how it will be crucial in making sustainability reporting standard practice.
Research published by KPMG
has already highlighted the rise in the number of sustainability reporting companies in the Nordic region, France, South Africa, China and India, where regulation or government-led guidelines are in place. As a result of policy - and other drivers like companies’ demands for transparency in their supply chains - reporting is increasing in developing countries. Reporting’s role in sustainable development is especially significant as GRI intensifies the activity around its Sustainable Development Strategy.
Using the G3.1 Guidelines and NGO Sector Supplement, the Report discloses GRI’s sustainability performance to Application Level A. It also highlights the efforts of the global network to which GRI belongs: stories of the international activity that was covered previously in the Year in Review.
This includes a summary of the sustainability and reporting landscape globally, and the outcomes of the UN Rio+20 conference; the progress of GRI’s regional and developing country engagement; the multi-stakeholder development of the next generation of Guidelines, G4; the big expansion of stakeholder-driven GRI services, like its training and coaching programs and Organizational Stakeholder Program; the first regional GRI Conferences in Australia and the US; and GRI’s support for the development of integrated reporting.
Like GRI’s last sustainability report, the Annual Report has benefited from the input of an External Feedback Committee (EFC). While the EFC’s involvement does not replace external assurance, it does provide a way for smaller organizations to check their reporting against the expectations and needs of stakeholders and report users.
Alongside its constructive criticisms, the EFC’s statement asserts that GRI has successfully combined its previously separate reports. A sustainability report should present a fair and balanced view of an organization’s performance. While this is also true of GRI’s former Year in Review, the latter served a purpose of communicating GRI’s progress to funders and sponsors. As part of their ‘background’ feedback, EFC members noted the ‘even-handed’ tone of the Annual Report.
The EFC also commented positively on GRI’s improved Disclosures on Management Approach, and on its responses to stakeholder feedback.
These effective responses were the result of the multi-stakeholder preparation of the Annual Report. At various stages the Report was influenced and improved by GRI’s Executive Management Team, Board of Directors, and Report Advisory Committee (composed of GRI governance body members); as well as the Secretariat employees in GRI’s Sustainability Management and Reporting Team (SMART), Communications, and Report Services Teams.
Sustainability reporting, and sustainable practices, mean a journey of continuous improvement. GRI of course recognizes its own needs for improvement. This includes devoting resources to collecting and presenting quantitative data, particularly for performance against goals; measuring the direct and indirect impacts of sustainability reporting; and ensuring that its reports meet users’ needs. Please share your thoughts on the new Annual Report via firstname.lastname@example.org