Keeping up the standard setting momentum

Published date: 11 July 2023

Letter from Carol Adams, GSSB Chair

I began in the role of Chair of the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) just over three months ago – a relatively short space of time yet much has happened already. We often refer to the GRI Standards as being ‘continuously updated’ and, with an expanding team, that certainly rings true.  All the more reason to regularly share with our stakeholders updates about the work and priorities of the GSSB.

It's worth starting with a reminder of who and what the GSSB is. Formed in 2016 when GRI transitioned from creating sustainability reporting guidelines to setting global standards, we are an independent group of 15 multi-stakeholder experts, drawn from different geographical areas, with sole responsibility for setting the GRI Standards.

We oversee the work of GRI Standards Division in the delivery of our work program, which highlights the standard setting activities prioritized for 2023-2025. We meet every month, including public live-streamed sessions, to review and decide standard setting progress and priorities.

At our June meeting, we discussed the following standards projects, currently in progress:


Mining Sector Standard

Public comment period closed at end of April, with 93 submissions received, which are now being assessed ahead of the Standard being finalized.

Biodiversity Topic Standard

Public comment period concluded in April and next stage revisions now underway, with final Standard expected in Q1 next year.

Textiles and Apparel Sector Standard

To cover textile production, manufacturing and retail, with Working Group recruitment process concluded and next steps to be announced soon.

Financial Services Sector Standards

New project covering standards for banking, insurance and capital markets, with a Technical Committee to be appointed in July.

Climate Change Topic Standards

Major update process to update for all climate related standards, with disclosure drafts for six standards under development.

Labor Topic Standards

Drafting process for the first set of four revised labor-related standards is taking place.

Economic Impact Topic Standards

Approval granted for a project proposal, and preparatory work has now started.

The GSSB fully appreciates that our work does not take place in isolation, and we regularly cooperate and collaborate with other standard setters and transparency initiatives, to further our purpose of providing the world’s leading and most comprehensive sustainability reporting standards, driving accountability for corporate impacts and their management. At present, that includes two significant developments that I’m sure you heard about: the IFRS Sustainability Disclosures Standards, and the new European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). Together with the Chief Standards Officer, Bastian Buck, I have also been talking with national standard setters and regulators interested in understanding more about our Standards and how to increase the level of GRI reporting in their countries.

As part of the GRI-IFRS MoU, the GSSB and the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) are working together so that disclosed corporate sustainability information covers impacts, risks and opportunities. Impacts reported under GRI Standards are important to investors as well as all other stakeholders. Organizations that apply GRI for determining and reporting their impacts are well placed to determine the risks and opportunities to their organization arising from those impacts when using IFRS standards. Other activities in the MoU are focused on capacity building and are planned for later this year and early next year.

Similarly, we have provided input to EFRAG for the development of the ESRS, the latest versions of which are as closely aligned as possible with the GRI Standards. What this means is that companies that use GRI Standards are well placed to comply with existing ESRS and will be better prepared for future European reporting requirements.

The GSSB is seeking to ensure that organizations can easily understand how GRI reporting relates to emerging disclosure needs. To that end, we are working with the ISSB, ESRS and national standard setters on projects such as technical mapping, creating XBRL taxonomies and reviewing draft standards. We are also clarifying our position on how the GRI Standards relate to ISSB and ESRS, through a proposed change in GRI 1.

While standard setting may never stop, pausing to consider the views and needs of others is always a good idea. It’s central to our multi-stakeholder ethos. We are particularly keen to hear from organisations that have developed their sustainability reporting through ‘with reference to’ GRI Standards (as in GRI 1), and we are also looking for good practice reporting by public sector organisations. Please get in touch to share such examples with the GSSB, as well as any other feedback you may have. We really do value your input.

Dr Carol Adams

Chair of the GSSB