The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has today released a major update to its Biodiversity Standard, GRI 101: Biodiversity 2024.

“The impacts of biodiversity loss stem well beyond the natural environment, undermining progress of the SDGs and having devastating consequences for people, while it is also a multiplying factor in the climate crisis,” said Global Sustainabilitiy Standards Board (GSSB) chair Carol Adams.

She added: “Understanding the impacts that organisations have is therefore a crucial aspect of implementing global solutions to halt and even reverse the damage and address existential threats.”

GRI 101 aims to set a global benchmark for reporting on biodiversity impacts and empower organisations to comprehensively disclose their most significant contributions to biodiversity loss across their operations and value chains.

The GRI’s standards occupy a complementary space alongside the International Sustainability Standards Board’s new sustainability rulebook.

Whereas the ISSB’s standards focus on financially material sustainability-related risks and opportunities relevant to investors, the GRI’s standards provide broader context and transparency on a company’s ESG impacts.

The release of the updated rulebook comes as the chair of the GSSB urged institutional investors such as pension funds to engage with the board’s due process.

The GRI Biodiversity Standard introduces several key features that the GRI believes will advance corporate reporting on biodiversity impacts in four key areas:

  • supply chain transparency – the standard emphasises full transparency throughout the supply chain to address underreporting of significant impacts on biodiversity;
  • location-specific reporting – organisations are now required to provide reports on the precise locations of their impacts;
  • direct drivers of biodiversity loss – it mandates the disclosure of new information about how an entity is driving biodiversity loss in areas such as land use or invasive species;
  • impacts on society – the standard also necessitates reporting on societal impacts, including indigenous peoples.

The United Nations defines biodiversity loss as a crucial issue that affects not only access to food and water but also as one that determines economic growth and climate change.

Meanwhile, the release of the standard comes during a live public consultation by the GRI on updates to its Climate Change and Energy Topic Standards.

The board issued the exposure drafts for public comment on 21 November 2023.

Carol Adams at GSSB

Carol Adams at GSSB

Adams told IPE: “I believe our proposed Climate Change and Energy Standard will have a crucial role in shedding light on the climate-related impacts of companies that pension funds invest in.”

She added: “These standards, which have a key focus on measures to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and support a just transition, have been developed with multi-stakeholder input – and we want to know if they deliver on expectations for transparency.” 

She said that given institutional investors’ growing interest in the issue, the board wanted “to understand this better through responses to our consultation”.

The objective of the revision is to represent internationally agreed best practice and align with the recent developments and the relevant authoritative intergovernmental instruments in the field of climate change, GHG emissions and energy consumption.

The proposals also include disclosures on the social aspect of climate change and the concept of just transition.

Interested parties have until 29 February 2024 to make their views known to the board.

The board expects to redeliberate public comments on the changes during Q2 and Q3 of this year, ahead of releasing the finalised standards in Q4.

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