The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) have announced a joint statement confirming high levels of interoperability between the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and the GRI Standards.

Hans Buysse, EFRAG administrative board president, said: “This joint statement concludes several years of diligent work towards a high level of interoperability between the ESRS and GRI standards.

“The efforts made by the GRI and EFRAG sustainability reporting teams will prevent the need for double reporting by companies resulting in a user-friendly reporting system without undue complexity.

“Our collaboration with GRI is bearing fruit and we are already preparing ourselves for the next challenges in the field of sustainability reporting.”

Their aim is to make sustainability reporting easier for companies and reduce the burden of multiple reporting systems.

The statement also confirms that companies applying ESRSs “are considered as reporting with reference to [not necessarily in accordance with] the GRI Standards and will therefore avoid the burden of multiple reporting.”

The release of the joint statement builds on the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive’s (CSRD) mandate for companies to adopt a “double materiality” approach.

It means that companies currently reporting under GRI can easily transition to ESRS, while those using ESRS will automatically be recognized as aligning with GRI – eliminating the need for dual reporting.

GRI chief executive Eelco van der Enden said the GRI is fully committed to actively engaging with EFRAG to further reduce the reporting burden, particularly through the development of a “digital taxonomy and multi-tagging system.”

Professor Carol Adams, who chairs the GRI’s standard setting board, the Global Sustainability Standards Board, said: “With this high level of interoperability achieved, we have now turned our attention to developing a detailed mapping of the disclosures from both sets of standards and technical guidance.”

Adams was also upbeat about companies expanding their reporting using GRI’s sector standards and additional topic standards in the future.

Meanwhile, companies across Europe are now under pressure to implement the new Europe-wide sustainability reporting framework and its double-materiality framework.

The 23 August meeting of EFRAG’s Sustainability Reporting Board (SRB) received an urgent reminder of the pressing need for preparers to have timely guidance on assessing materiality when applying the rules.

SRB member Simon Braaksma, who is responsible for sustainability reporting at Dutch conglomerate Philips, warned many companies have “no experience” and “no tools” with which to meet the requirements.

Also during the same meeting, EFRAG SRB chair Patrick de Cambourg said companies can also report in accordance with both the ESRS and the GRI through a single report.

He added that the SRB and the GRI are working on additional technical cooperation to simplify the reporting process.

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