The Global Reporting Initiative

How to compare companies on relevant dimensions of sustainability [An article from: Ecological Economics]The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. These Guidelines are for voluntary use by organizations for reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products, and services. The GRI incorporates the active participation of representatives from business, accountancy, investment, environmental, human rights, research and labour organizations from around the world. 

Started in 1997 by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CEREs), the GRI became independent in 2002, and is an official collaborating centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and works in cooperation with UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan’s Global Compact. The GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (last revised in July 2002) address a broad range of corporate social responsibility issues related to an organization’s 
(1) economic performance (e.g., wages and benefits, training, research and development), 
(2) environmental performance (e.g., energy, water and materials use; greenhouse gas emissions, land use/biodiversity), and 
(3) social performance (e.g., labor and human rights, workplace health and safety, employee retention). 
In addition to the core GRI guidelines, GRI is also leading the development of a series of sector supplements to the guidelines, e.g., for the finance and mining communities. While the GRI promotes itself as a reporting framework/guideline only, it is having increasing influence in the debate on the ways and means a company should structure and govern its transparency and reporting, and general sustainability efforts.