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Transitioning to G4
The next evolution in the Global Reporting Initiative sustainability reporting guidelines
Organisations publishing sustainability reports after the 31 December 2015 must follow G4 reporting guidelines.
In May 2013, the Global Reporting Initiative (‘GRI’) released the latest evolution of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines - G4. There are a number of areas of significant revision from earlier versions of the GRI guidelines and reporting organisations will need to plan well ahead of the typical reporting cycle to prepare a sustainability report in accordance with G4.
GRI and G4
Since its launch in 1999, the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework has emerged as the most commonly used framework for sustainability reporting.
By 2011, 2,654 organisations were reporting against the GRI guidelines with adoption strongest in Europe and Asia. In Australia, 43 ASX 200 listed companies (80% of these are in ASX 100) use the GRI guidelines as their sustainability reporting framework.
Comprised of Reporting Principles, Standard Disclosures and an Implementation Manual, the aim of G4 is to assist organisations to produce sustainability reports that matter, contain valuable information about the organisation’s most critical sustainability-related issues, and make such sustainability reporting standard practice.
Many organisations have been producing sustainability reports based on G3 (released in 2006) or G3.1 (a 2011 update) for a number of years. However given there are a number of new or expanded requirements in G4, reporting organisations will need to plan well ahead of the typical reporting cycle in order to prepare a sustainability report in accordance with G4.
While the GRI will continue to recognise reports based on the G3 and G3.1 guidelines for up to two full reporting cycles, the first G4 reports have been released and many more are expected in the next 12 months as leading organisations make the transition.
First time reporters are encouraged to move straight to G4, even if they do not at first fulfil the requirements of either the Core or Comprehensive options.