30 June 20213 minute read

Sustainability standards setter seeks input on draft GRI Standards for agriculture, aquaculture, fishing and coal

As the world's first globally accepted standards for sustainability reporting, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards are part of the bedrock of the ESG ecosystem. Established by the nonprofit Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), the GRI Standards represent global best practice for reporting publicly on a range of economic, environmental and social impacts. Under the Standards, an organization reports its positive or negative contributions toward achieving sustainable development. At the same time, the reporting process helps organizations understand their outward impact.

The GRI Sector Program is designed to provide authoritative information on sectoral impacts that can help focus sustainability reporting on issues bearing on sustainable development. The Sector Program helps highlight emerging issues for future development in the Standards, which assists the GSSB in delivering on its commitment to continuously improve the GRI Standards. The GRI Sector Program intends to develop standards for a total of 40 sectors. The agriculture, aquaculture, fishing and coal sectors are priorities because of their profound influence on climate change, biodiversity, food security, human rights, and farming and fishing practices.

The agriculture, aquaculture and fishing sectors are fundamental to supporting food systems and producing non-food products such as fibers and fuels. The GRI Sector Program aims to help organizations within these sectors improve how they disclose and manage their impacts across economic, environmental and social dimensions.

Similarly, the coal sector is an important provider of raw materials for energy generation and other major industries with far-reaching effects on the environment, people and economies. The GRI Sector Program encourages reporting companies to be transparent about these effects. This increases accountability and enables an informed discussion on the sustainable future of coal.

GSSB has released exposure drafts for two sector standard projects – one for agriculture, aquaculture and fishing, and one for coal – for public review and input until July 30, 2021. The objective of the public comment period is to test the clarity, feasibility, completeness and relevancy of the exposure drafts’ content, including:

  • Whether the topics identified as likely to be material for the agriculture, aquaculture, fishing and coal sectors accurately reflect each sector’s most significant economic, environmental and social impacts and
  • Whether the disclosures included for each topic are relevant for organizations in those sectors.

Public comments help shape the future of these important standards, and stakeholders with relevant input are encouraged to make their voices heard. To provide a public comment by July 30, 2021, you can access each sector’s page through the GRI Sector Program website and submit feedback via the public comment questionnaire.

For additional information on this and related subjects, or assistance with the preparation and submission of a public comment, contact the authors or your usual DLA Piper relationship lawyer. For sector-specific ESG insights from DLA Piper, please visit our Sustainability and Environment, Social and Governance portal.