The body tasked with developing EU sustainability reporting standards has signed a cooperation agreement with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

The agreement is to share technical expertise to co-construct the new standards, which are provided for under the European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) proposal, and “contribute to further global convergence”.

It is the first such agreement that the EFRAG project task force – PTF-ESRS – has signed, and follows high-level meetings with leading international sustainability reporting standard-setters and initiatives in December 2020 and March this year.

John Berrigan, director general of the Commission’s financial services division, welcomed the statement of cooperation between the task force and GRI “as an important step towards promoting convergence between European and global sustainability reporting standards”.

“I encourage similar engagement between the EFRAG PTF-ESRS and other international standard setting initiatives,” he added.

Patrick de Cambourg, chair of the PTF-ESRS, said: “In the spirit of co-construction and convergence we promote, we want to benefit from long-standing precursors and avoid reinventing the wheel, while contributing at the same time to further substantial progress globally.”

He said the task force had chosen to cooperate closely with the best practitioners and that GRI “was an obvious first choice and we hope to find other valuable partners, soon”.

The PTF-ESRS cited the IFRS Foundation as one of other leading initiatives it was looking forward to establishing cooperation arrangements with. The IFRS Foundation is proposing to establish a new board to set investor-focussed sustainability-related disclosures standards, starting with climate.

The EFRAG task force said the GRI standards were currently the most commonly used sustainability reporting standards among EU companies.

Eric Hespenheide, chair of the GRI, said: “The CSRD has the potential to raise the bar for corporate accountability and transparency, in Europe and beyond. “There are strong parallels between the double materiality-based proposals in the CSRD and the GRI Standards.”

The role of the EFRAG project task force is to elaborate draft standards “in project mode” with a view to eventually hading over responsibility for the standards to EFRAG sustainability reporting bodies once these have been created.

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