Questions about the revised GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 Standards

Why were the GRI 303: Water 2016 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2016 Standards revised?

The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) is committed to the continuous development and improvement of the GRI Standards. The modular structure of the Standards makes it possible for individual Standards to be updated independently, to stay up to date with latest developments.

GRI 303: Water and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety are the first GRI Standards to be reviewed. Both Standards have been revised to align with international best practice and recent developments in water stewardship and occupational health and safety management and reporting; and to harmonize with key instruments and reporting frameworks.

For GRI 303, key reporting frameworks included the CDP Water Questionnaire and the CEO Water Mandate Corporate Reporting Guidelines. For GRI 403, key instruments included those developed by the International Labour Organization and the ISO 45001 standard.

The global priorities identified in the Sustainable Development Goals have also been a key point of reference for both Standards.

For detailed information about the review of these Standards, please see the Project Proposals: GRI 303 and GRI 403.

What was the process for revising the Standards?

The process was overseen by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), GRI’s independent standard-setting body, following the Due Process Protocol.

The Standard was revised through a transparent and inclusive process and in the public interest.

The content was developed by a multi-stakeholder Project Working Group with leading experts and practitioners on water stewardship and occupational health and safety respectively from the constituencies of civil society, investors, business, labor, and international and governmental institutions from around the world.

For more information about the review process, please visit the project pages: GRI 303 and GRI 403.

How was feedback on the exposure drafts of the GRI 303: Water and Effluents and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety Standards addressed?

In line with due process, the revised drafts of the GRI 303: Water and Effluents and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety Standards were exposed for public comment between 10 August and 9 October 2017.

Due to the extent of changes implemented in the draft of GRI 303 as a result of the feedback received during the first public comment, this Standard was re-exposed for a second public comment between 20 December 2017 and 18 February 2018.

The Basis for Conclusions documents, outlining the main themes identified from the received comments and how the GSSB responded to these, can be found on the respective project pages: GRI 303 and GRI 403.

What has changed in the revised GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 Standards?

To learn about the changes and requirements included in the revised GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 Standard, please view this introductory video and visit the project page.

For GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018, please view this introductory video and visit the project page.

When will the GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 come into effect? Can I start using them now?

Since the revised Standards represent leading best practice on water stewardship and occupational health and safety management and reporting, existing users of GRI 303: Water 2016 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2016 are advised to start using the revised Standards right away, even if they cannot as yet meet all requirements needed for the Core or Comprehensive in accordance options. In the latter situation, reporting organizations are advised to build up their reporting gradually and respond to all requirements over time, using the reasons for omissions in the meanwhile to provide transparency on how the Standards have been applied. Please consult the GRI Standards FAQ page for more information on reasons for omission.

The revised GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 Standards will be effective for reports or other materials published on or after 1 January 2021. This means that their use will be required from that date onwards, though earlier adoption is encouraged.

GRI 303: Water 2016 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2016 can continue to be used for reports or other materials if they are published on or before 31 December 2020.

An organization using GRI 303 or GRI 403 for the first time is advised to start reporting with the revised version of the Standards.

How to use the GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 Standards?

When an organization has identified water and effluents or occupational health and safety as a material topic, it is required to report the following:

Management approach disclosures:

This applies for both Core and Comprehensive reports.

In exceptional cases, if an organization cannot report on some of these management approach disclosures, it can use reasons for omission. Only Disclosure 103-1 may not be omitted.

Topic-specific disclosures:

GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 include three topic-specific disclosures each: Disclosures 303-3, 303-4, and 303-5, and Disclosures 403-8, 403-9, and 403-10 respectively. The number of topic-specific disclosures to be reported on depends on whether an organization has chosen the Core or Comprehensive option for reporting in accordance with the GRI Standards:

  • If an organization prepares its report in accordance with the Core option, it is required to report on at least one of these topic-specific disclosures (Disclosure 303-3, 303-4, or 303-5 for water and effluents, and either Disclosure 403-8, 403-9, or 403-10 for occupational health and safety);
  • If an organization prepares its report in accordance with the Comprehensive option, it is required to report on all topic-specific disclosures.

Please note that specifically for GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018, due to the inseparable relationship between water withdrawal, consumption, and discharge, the reporting organization is encouraged to report on all three topic-specific disclosures of GRI 303. Through a comprehensive understanding of its water use, an organization can assess the impacts it has on water resources that benefit the ecosystem and other water users, and consequently, the organization itself.

Reasons for omission are permitted for all topic-specific disclosures if, in exceptional cases, the organization cannot report on these. 

Please consult Table 1 in GRI 101: Foundation for the complete set of criteria for reporting in accordance with the GRI Standards.

Are GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 available in other languages?

The official language of the GRI Standards is English.

Translations of GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 will be available in key languages from the last quarter of 2018.

Please consult the GRI Translations page or contact standards@globalreporting.org for more information on the upcoming translation schedule.

Which Standards will be revised next?

The revision of the GRI 303: Water 2016 Standard has affected the GRI 306: Effluents and Waste 2016 Standard. 

  • All effluents-related content from the GRI 306: Effluents and Waste 2016 Standard has been moved to the GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 Standard, as it constitutes an essential component of water use. The remaining waste-related content in GRI 306 is currently under revision. Please visit the project page for more information.

Please consult the work program of the GSSB and the schedule of other GRI Standards for review here.