GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards: Change shall come

Seemingly right on the heels of GRI G4 Guidelines is the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards. Launched last 19 October 2016, its aim is to set a common language among companies for non-financial information disclosure and provide a means for even greater transparency on the economic, environmental and social impacts companies make.

The GRI Standards: an even better strategic reporting tool

While reception to the GRI G4 Guidelines have been positive and it remains the most widely used framework for sustainability reporting, the G4  guidelines are often subject to misinterpretation and reporting loopholes. We have seen sustainability reports serve as a platform to showcase revenue performance. Sometimes, imbalanced reporting occurs when positive impacts disproportionately outweigh negative effects.


Increase in report numbers of GRI G4 Reports in the GRI Sustainability Disclosure Database


Amidst stakeholder demand for accountability and transparency, the new GRI Standards will fully replace the G4 Guidelines come 1 July 2018. With its rollout, there is an emphasis on due communication as well as a shift towards economic, environmental and social impacts. The transition entails an enhanced format and the use of six new modular structures that provide better clarity on reporting specifics (more on this below).

Levelling up: from Guidelines to Standard

The transition is seen as a move from following reporting guidelines into adopting formal reporting standards to ensure both adherence and consistency.  While the Standards remain voluntary, language clarity already identifies what is required (shall), what is recommended (should) and what is optional (can). Clear too beyond the language change is the rigor required to apply the Standards.

“The GRI Standards make it much easier for companies to report non-financial information, using a well-understood shared language,” said GRI Interim Chief Executive Eric Hespenheide. “The Standards are more straightforward, making them accessible to potentially millions of businesses worldwide. Sustainability reporting, using the GRI Standards, is the best way for a company to disclose its economic, environmental and social impacts, thus providing insights into its contributions – positive or negative – toward sustainable development.” 1

Face change to the look of the report, Materiality is still at center stage

The Standards are based on the G4 Guidelines, there is no substantive difference in terms of the vigor in reporting, determining materiality and content, nor in the credibility of assurance practices. How material issues are prioritized remains the same, though specifics on what is reported against the materiality principle are more robust.

In Accordance Option is retained the same as G4

One of the changes is that the Principal Manual + Implementation Manual have become the Modular Standards and the Reporting Principles/In Accordance Criteria, General Standard Disclosures, and Disclosure on Management Approach are now GRI 101, GRI 102 and GRI 103.



Addressing cross-sectional issues, there are no longer Aspects, it is all Topics. These have been whittled down from 46 Aspects + Topics in G4 into 36 Topics as discussed in GRI 200 (Economic), GRI 300 (Environmental) and GRI 400 (Social). These include all Performance Indicators. No longer required, Sector Disclosures are referenced as guidance.

All the standards are numbered and there have been changes in order of Disclosure. Under the Standards, Grievance Mechanism is disclosed only if deemed material.


To be In Accordance, Report against GRI 101, GRI 201 and GRI 301 is required plus a minimum of one (1) material topic disclosure for CORE, and each disclosure required for each material topic for COMPREHENSIVE. While the selection of Standards in GRI 200, GRI 300 and GRI 400 are based on the selected material aspects (references may be made in isolation).

Making the change

As a strategic tool, a sustainability report processed in the right way is powerful. It articulates the sustainable development of companies from vision to goal to development to achievement.

From G4 to the Standards, materiality is the bedrock of sustainability reporting and this is what should be reflected. Materiality assessment is central to determining stakeholder view and the impacts, positive and negative, of the business throughout the value chain. From this, alignment to the Guidelines or the Standards will follow.

Adoption of the GRI Standards is a welcome opportunity to address stakeholder expectations of transparency and accountability and communicate a company’s sustainability agenda though the changes necessitated by the Standards, in the G4 templates and formats we have just gotten used to, are neither simple nor few. However, in theory, it should be easier and quicker to report on any significant changes within a given reporting period as the Modular Standard format accommodates piecemeal changes. This is particularly significant for companies already having management processes in place, able to gather solid information, on how sustainability is integrated well within the business strategy.

For companies that are new to Sustainability Reporting, bear in mind that the Standards are not yet fast approaching. Reporting processes can be analyzed and modified to be in alignment with the Standards. A gradual transition from G4 to the Standards should be planned to allot the necessary time and resources for data gathering and document preparation.


1 First Global Sustainability Reporting Standards Set to Transform Business. (2016, October 19). Retrieved from

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ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management system) – A tool for managing Environmental Performance


Managing a system in an effective way is a thorny knack. And when it comes to Environmental Management System, an organisation needs to be systematic in planning the same. Environmental Management System in short is a crucial system that manages an organisation’s various environmental programs that give way to an eminent organisational structure and appropriate resources that ensure a fine policy that is developed, implemented and maintained for environmental protection.


Factors Influencing Environmental Management System

In this milieu, Mining Industries seek for an adhesive Environmental Management System that guarantees environmental sustainability in the first place. Mining industries look to track the following factors with an effective EMS:

  1. Water Pollution/Acid Mine Drainage
  2. Air Pollution
  3. Land Disturbance

Not only is tracking, a full-bodied Environmental Management System can also help Mining Industries to both reclaim/restore a mine to its original state from any condition. This short write up will take you into the Operational Efficiencies you can top up with the help of ISO 14001:2015 which hence make you compliant with the government regulations.

Many a company is antagonistic in the advantages that one obtains with an ISO 14001:2015 Certification. In reality, ISO 14001:2015 is not just a certification; it is a tool that enables Living Management System that enhances the operation of every industry to a great level.

With an ISO 14001:2015 Certification, you can do much more than just mapping and staying compliant with the regulations you have documented. With the usual processes you implement you could miss the minor non-compliances, which might later hit as non-compliance and lead to penalising too.


ISO 14001 For Operational Efficiencies

ISO 14001:20015 stands as a comprehensive yet robust standard that assists you in documenting all the activities and identifying the risks so as to help designing the best mitigating plans and practices. These plans and practices help you face issues exactly the way it is documented in the papers; go beyond the audits of ISO 14001 and thus rally around operational efficiencies. This could be made by a simple and truthful planning, implementing, measuring and refining all processes so as to gain the substantial Operational Efficiencies. Such an intended standard will obviously result in a more than expected cost diminution, a careful cutback in time consumed and an exceptional responsiveness to the external environment.

Mining companies, in addition to the above-mentioned assistance, can also measure Carbon Footprint Plan:

  • Using the Best Practices of ISO 14064 – GHG Inventory and Management
  • B- By developing Simple Assessment Tools that take into account all the activities that contribute to the GHG Emissions and thus calculate the Carbon Footprint

The main focus of ISO 14001:2015 is to meet the expectations of industries in setting the right standards that ensure environmental protection despite the dust and chemicals that are put into contact to the surroundings. Companies necessitate having standards that communicate internally so that everyone abides by the same.

When it comes to Mining industry, the potential chances and quantity of dust and chemicals exposed to the environment when the ore is transported from the mine site to the port site is huge. Anticipating this, following enhanced processes that make the public realise an adequate cleaning plan is in place becomes quite significant. Properly planned and rightly set standards help companies to be compliant in clearing out and overhauling the roads; and also pour cleaning chemicals that keep the roads clean. This approach not only promises environment protection, but also upholds your grade when a complaint is posed to you proposing your company as an environmental threat.


Environmental Control Systems

Environmental Management precisely draws out a picture of all the environmental aspects that have led and will lead to poisonous emissions to the environment. With the figured out issues that are liable to the environment, you can frame the key indicators that contain mitigation or control systems in place which tracks all your actions that affects the environment either in a small level or to a great extent. In addition, action plans that mitigate risks time to time will help you remediate the miss outs due to your daily busy agenda.

A few Action Plans that can be added in your checklist can be:

  • Making confirmatory Rehabilitation and Reforestation processes that replace the used resources in some way to the environment.
  • Reducing Air Pollution and Ensuring Noise Reduction can be made uncomplicated by gauging the pollution level due to the Mining activities and ensuring that the regulatory requirements are met rightly.
  • Monitoring Water Quality in order to make certain that the quality of water is within the recommended standards. With the help of ISO 14001, you can enable many such assessments on a sensible basis that help you to analyze the issues and impacts and thereby keep a track of records from the past and learn to make right implementations in future. ISO 14001:2015 will be effective only when we align the targets to the environmental aspects in order to obtain maximum business results and increase a company’s potential for environmental management.


Metrics Matter

A complete metrics and well-planned checklist on:

  • Number of communities
  • Number of people
  • Length of road
  • Index of pollution
  • Complaints Database
  • Stakeholder Community -can help you enhance your compliance policies up to date.

These metrics also pave way for assessment surveys, road monitoring processes and re-cleaning operations that showcase your industry in the high set as you have foreseen. Via this, you can make firm KPI’s of your own that helps you in making continuous improvements to astutely save money, effort and time – every time!

The consequence of having an ISO 14001:2015 as a part of your business year on year eliminates negative impacts that you project to happen without such a standard not put forward into action. When you give discernment to the public that you have implemented actions to ensure a sustainable environment that is when you have succeeded in having an EMS inside your organisation. By making the employees realise that giving back to the environment what is taken from it as a life-size target we can turn out to be an efficient organisation.


Benefits of ISO 14001

  • Making it more straightforward, the business benefits that can come out of implementing a robust ISO 14001 system:
  • Perk up your brand reputation by presenting your employees’ commitment towards environmental protection
  • Design a Standard process management that helps your company march towards an effective environmental management
  • Engage employees in such a way that they take up your business initiatives as their own responsibilities to support your initiatives
  • Meet and Match customer/regulatory requirements that leave them satisfied out of your endeavors end of the day
  • Play a part in the reducing the Global Issues that are to be blamed for acute Climatic changes the world is facing today