Questions about using the Standards and ‘in accordance’

How can the GRI Standards be used?

The GRI Standards are structured as a set of modular, interrelated reporting standards. There are two basic approaches for using the GRI Standards:

1. Using the GRI Standards as a set to prepare a sustainability report in accordance with the Standards

The GRI Standards have been developed primarily to be used together to help an organization prepare a sustainability report which is based on the Reporting Principles and focuses on material topics.

If using this approach, the organization is required to use the three Standards in the Universal series (100) and only the topic-specific Standards (series 200, 300 and 400) that relate to the material topics identified.

2. Using selected Standards, or parts of their content, to report specific information, without preparing a report in accordance with the Standards

This option is referred to as a ‘GRI-referenced’ claim. If using this approach, the organization chooses as many or as few Standards, according to its specific reporting needs.

For each of these ways of using the Standards there is a corresponding claim, or statement of use, which organizations are required to include in any reports or published materials with disclosures based on the Standards. See Section 3 of GRI 101: Foundation for information.

How do I make an ‘in accordance’ claim?

An organization preparing a report in accordance with the GRI Standards can choose one of two options (Core or Comprehensive), depending on the degree to which the GRI Standards have been applied. For each option, there is a corresponding claim, or statement of use, that the organization is required to include in the report. These claims have set wording.

The criteria to claim that a report has been prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards (either Core or Comprehensive option) can be found on pages 22-23 of GRI 101: Foundation.

An organization is required to notify GRI when it makes an in accordance claim in any report or published materials (see page 26 in GRI 101).

Disclosure 102-54 in GRI 102: General Disclosures requires reporting the in accordance claim made by the organization.

Have the in accordance criteria changed compared to G4?

The two options for reporting in accordance (Core and Comprehensive) will continue. There have been some changes due to the new format and structure, and the content clarifications.

The criteria to claim that a report has been prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards (either Core or Comprehensive option) can be found on pages 22-23 of GRI 101: Foundation. For an overview of changes to the G4 disclosures, consult the mapping tool.

In addition, the GRI Standards offer more flexibility for organizations that want to use selected Standards, or parts of their content, to report specific information, without preparing a report in accordance with the Standards. This is referred to as a ‘GRI-referenced’ claim.

Any organization using disclosures from the GRI Standards in published materials is required to state how it has done so. See Section 3 of GRI 101 for information on the specific claims, or statements of use, that organizations are required of organizations using the Standards.

Is external assurance or certification required to apply the GRI Standards?

The use of external assurance for sustainability reports is advised, but it is not required in order to make a claim that a report has been prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards. An organization is required to report its approach to external assurance with Disclosure 102-56. For more information, see pages 41-42 in GRI 102: General Disclosures.

The GRI Standards are not subject to certification. There is no cost associated with using the GRI Standards for sustainability reporting, or with notifying GRI of the use of the Standards. 

How do I use the Sector Disclosures together with the GRI Standards?

The GRI Sector Disclosures (which were developed for the GRI G4 Guidelines) provide additional sector-specific disclosures and guidance which can be used in conjunction with the GRI Standards. The use of the GRI Sector Disclosures is recommended, but it is not required in order to make a claim that a report has been prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards.

Clause 2.3.1 in GRI 101: Foundation recommends that organizations consult the relevant Sector Disclosures, if available, to help identify their material topics.

For more information, see page 18 in GRI 101. The Sector Disclosures can be found on the GRI website here.