GRI tightens its grip on OECD countries

-:By Daniel Suchenski: Featured Guest Author:-

On May 11th 2011, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) released its Year In Review Report for 2009/2010. Highlighted by its third annual conference in Amsterdam, where participants dubbed the gathering as “the largest multi-stakeholder conference focusing on the role organizational transparency plays in achieving a sustainable global economy”, GRI announced at the conference an ambitious target:

By 2015, all large and medium-size companies in OECD countries and large emerging economies should be required to report on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and, if they do not do so, to explain why; and by 2020, there should be a generally accepted and applied international standard which would effectively integrate financial and ESG reporting by all organizations.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or the OECD, has a mission to “promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” Part of OECD’s work includes the development of guidelines for multinational enterprises toward social responsibility and sustainability at-large.

According to OECD’s website, The Guidelines are “recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from adhering countries. They provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct in areas such as employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, combating bribery, consumer interests, science and technology, competition, and taxation.”

Considered by some to be the “most comprehensive instrument in existence today for corporate responsibility multilaterally agreed by governments,” and “representing all regions of the world and accounting for 85 per cent of foreign direct investment”, OECD has a long way to go to meet the goals set by the GRI.

Elaine Cohen – a CSR consultant at Beyond Business Ltd, blogger, author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices, Greenleaf, 2010 and GRI Organizational Stakeholder – who wrote the introduction for GRI’s Year In Review report, detailed that, GRI sustainability reporting saw “more companies are having their sustainability reports assured, resulting in more accurate and trustworthy data and that statistics for 2010… In 2010, 1,818 reports were recorded as using the GRI Framework (up 22% from 2009) ”

While the GRI highlights expansion of its “network in new geographies, translation of more publications, the G4 upgrade, collaboration with the IIRC, and the Next Big Conference in 2012”, as its plan to reach its goals for 2015, Elaine Cohen among other have expressed doubt that the GRI’s goals can be achieved without clearer, benchmarks and timelines for the next four years.  

While the GRI clearly has some lofty goals and it is not clear if those goals will be realized in the years to come. It is perhaps always better to dream big than to not dream at all. When Kennedy first told the American people that the US would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, many took it only as political rhetoric. Mankind has always risen to the challenge when times called for it. Why should today be any different?

Mr. Suchenski is a proficient Mandarin speaker, a LEED AP and Green Advantage certified. He is currently a Sustainable Building Advisor and owner and president of KCX Consulting. He also blogs at


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