The future of GRI's sector guidance
09 May 2012
​Photography: saturn ♄ (CC License)

Different sectors face specific sustainability challenges, from event legacy to media literacy and emergency preparedness. GRI is now working on a new project to address sustainability reporting in many different sectors, including research on what topics are most relevant or material for those sectors.
​GRI currently has ten Sector Supplements – GRI reporting guidance tailored for different sectors. Supplements are available for NGOs, Airport Operators, Electric Utilities, Construction and Real Estate, Oil and Gas, Mining and Metals, Financial Services, Food Processing, Event Organizers, and, as of this month, Media.

Two years ago GRI started to discuss a re-design of the guidance development process to develop reporting guidance for different sectors. A new methodology to approach sector or industry related disclosure should be developed, considering the international evolution in this field since GRI’s G3 Guidelines were launched in 2006.

GRI has carried out numerous external consultations with a wide range of information users (such as financial market and labor representatives) and reporting organizations including the first G4 Public Comment Period between August and November 2011. Through these consultations, the majority of stakeholders have asked GRI to offer more prescriptive reporting guidance at the business sector and industry level of disclosure.

In combination with the development of the next generation of GRI’s Guidelines – G4 – GRI has started two workstreams, both running from May 2012 to May 2013:
 
1. A technical review of the existing Sector Supplements, including implementing more accurate language and definitions to bring clarity to the sector reporting process
2. Global research on material topics for different sectors or industries

The technical review of currently existing sector guidance will be developed by the Secretariat, in consultation with the Technical Editing Task Force and GRI’s Technical Advisory Committee. The global research will be led by the Secretariat in partnership with other global organizations conducting research in this field.

The main outcome of the research project will be a publication released at the GRI Conference on Sustainability and Reporting in May 2013. The publication will summarize the main finding of this research and feature lists of specific material sustainability related topics by business sectors or industries; the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) will be used as a starting point.

GRI will ask stakeholders to give their feedback on these material topics lists during a Public Comment Period that will start after the GRI Conference in May 2013.

The metrics definition (KPIs) on how to report on the identified material topics will not be included in this part of the project – they will be defined after the Public Comment Period.