What is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)?

Global Reporting Initiative meeting

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the most widely used standards for sustainability reporting. They reflect worldwide best practices and help organisations to comprehend and report on their impacts on the environment, people, and the environment credibly and comparably. 

The initiative helps businesses and organisations take responsibility by offering them a means to measure to communicate their impact through a global common language. The guidelines are entirely free and are constantly improved for the best outcomes for organisations and the planet. 

About the Global Reporting Initiative

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a worldwide standard for sustainability reporting designed by investors and organisations to monitor business performance. They are the most widely used standards for sustainability reporting. Currently, there are more than 10,000 reports in over 100 countries. 

It was established in 1997 when there was an increasing need for a global set of standards that would enable stakeholders to compare information concerning environmental issues from one country or business with another as a means to assess progress towards sustainability objectives and goals. 

The Global Reporting Initiative has since created over 200 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. These guidelines are available free of charge to businesses and countries to improve their sustainability reporting. The initiative has been adopted as a requirement by leading government regulators, institutional investors, and development organisations across the globe. 

This universal framework for sustainability reporting is based on common ground that information like this can offer new insights regarding how businesses contribute to sustainable development. The Global Reporting Initiative helps organisations track and report so that they can help in the transition to net-zero emissions. Standards are provided in a user-friendly format so SMEs who are less knowledgeable and experienced in sustainability can still contribute. 

The standards are also quite crucial for multinational organisations with varying sustainability requirements. This is because they offer measurable, comparable, and consistent standards which can be comprehended under one standardised reporting language. These standards are also of particular importance to external and internal stakeholders who want to make the organisation’s impact more transparent. 

What Are the Global Reporting Initiative Standards?

Any organisation can use the GRI Standards to report on their impact credibly. The Standards comprise three series of Standards that enable businesses to increase their transparency on how they are contributing to sustainable development. 

These include the GRI Universal Standards, the GRI Sector Standards, and the GRI Topic Standards. Below is a brief description of each of the Global Reporting Initiative Standards. 

  • The Universal Standards: The Universal Standards include reporting on environmental due diligence and human rights in line with intergovernmental expectations. Moreover, the Universal Standards concern an organisation’s structure, activities, workers, strategies, and material topics. This set of standards applies to all organisations and gives a general insight into the business and its impact. 
  • Sector Standards: The Sector Standards allow for more effective reporting on sector-specific impacts. These standards aim to improve the consistency, quality, and completeness of reporting by organisations. Standards have been developed for 40 sectors under this series. 
  • Topic Standards: These standards have been adapted to be used in conjunction with the revised Universal Standards. Some examples of Topic Standards include frameworks on occupational health and safety, waste, and tax. 


The Global Reporting Initiative’s framework for sustainability reporting enables businesses to gather and report information comparably and transparently. By using the standards, organisations can better comprehend and manage their impact on the planet and people. In addition, they can reduce and determine risks, source new opportunities, and take steps toward becoming a more trusted and responsible organisation. 

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