EFRAG and GRI to co-construct biodiversity standard

Published date: 01 December 2021

Project marks a next step in aligning global and European sustainability standards

The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) and GRI have joined forces on the technical work for their respective new biodiversity standards. EFRAG is to make the draft EU standard available to the Commission mid-June, while GRI’s aims to release an updated GRI Biodiversity Standard in the second half of 2022.

In July, when GRI was appointed co-constructor of the new EU sustainability reporting standards, Sean Berrigan, Director General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, European Commission reiterated that: “European sustainability reporting standards should build on and contribute to the progress of existing standards and frameworks that are widely used by companies.” The joint development of standards for biodiversity is a concrete example. Following the due processes of both GRI and EFRAG guarantees this interplay.

Co-construction means EFRAG and GRI join each other’s technical expert groups, share information, align work plans and adjust timelines as much as possible. Importantly, the joint work will incorporate the latest developments and authoritative intergovernmental instruments in the field of biodiversity, will enable consideration of double materiality perspectives, and ensuring multi-stakeholder consensus.

Co-constructing our new Biodiversity standard with EFRAG marks a significant next step in our collaboration. Aligning global and European sustainability reporting will result in more effective, comprehensive and comparable biodiversity reporting. One of the key take-aways from COP 26 was that two of the most pressing issues of our time, climate change and biodiversity loss, are intrinsically linked. Holding organizations accountable for their impacts is crucial to break the chain of events on both, for which transparency forms the basis. Not only will high quality disclosures lead to better decisions by the companies, it also will inform decisions from providers of capital, labor, and governments. That is why the review of GRI 304: Biodiversity 2016 is so important to us.

Judy Kuszewski, Chair of the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB)

When Commissioner Dombrovskis originally launched the revision of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, he and the Commission made it clear that European Sustainability Reporting Standards should benefit from long-standing precursors and avoid reinventing the wheel while contributing at the same time to further substantial progress globally. Working with GRI fits well with this principle and we are pleased to further deepen our relation through the co-construction of this standard. Our aim is to create the highest possible level of alignment between the European Sustainability Reporting Standards and the GRI Standards. Such alignment will also help address a second requirement from the Commission, which was to minimize the additional reporting pressure on organizations.

Patrick de Cambourg, Chair of the EFRAG Project Task Force

In June 2021, GRI announced plans to update GRI 304: Biodiversity 2016, which is currently used annually by at least 2,000 of the more than 10,000 companies reporting each year with the GRI Standards.

An 18-member Technical Committee has been appointed by the GSSB to lead the development of a new GRI Biodiversity Standard. It has representatives from: 

  • Business enterprise (ConocoPhillips, DSM, L’OCCITANE Group, Rio Tinto) 
  • Civil society (BirdLife International, IUCN, Marine Watch International, WWF)
  • Investment institutions (PBAF, World Bank)
  • Labor (Department of Conservation – Wellington)
  • Mediating institutions (CDP, Deloitte, Global Balance, Lancaster University, Rainforest Alliance, UEBT, UNEP-WCMC) 

Within the EFRAG Project Task Force – European Sustainability Reporting Standards (PTF-ESRS), the development of the new biodiversity standard is led by members of Cluster 3 – Other environment topics: Alan Brett, Philippe Diaz, Delphine Gibassier, Fabienne Grall, and Stefan Schnell. The work is supported by an expert group comprised of: Robert Adamczyk, Emily Healy, Ingmar Juergens, Johan Lammerant, Lourdes Martín, and Rosa Pritchard. 

The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group serves the European public interest in the field of financial reporting. The European Commission has tasked EFRAG to prepare for new EU sustainability reporting standards. This work is now adhering to the recommendations report by the PTF-ESRS.