December 5, 2022
Global standard for biodiversity impacts one step closer

Consultation begins on ‘major update’ to GRI Biodiversity Standard

Informing a global response to a deepening biodiversity crisis has been released by GRI. It depicts a proposed reporting standard that seeks to unlock accountability for the impacts companies have on the environment. Feedback is sought so the final standard delivers the global best practice for transparency on biodiversity impacts. For more on the exposure draft: revised GRI Biodiversity Standard.

On 7 December, the UN Convention on Biodiversity (COP15) starts in Montreal– where countries will discuss a new biodiversity action plan. The timing could not be more critical. Meanwhile,  a stark warning that biodiversity is declining in every global region has been made by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Thus, stakeholders are demanding companies to do more to assess, disclose and reduce their biodiversity impacts. The exposure draft responds to these pressures, consolidating the latest authoritative insights and extensively revamping the 2016 Standard (GRI 304). It proposes:

  • Emphasize location-specific data, guaranteeing businesses work transparently regarding sites where their biodiversity effects take place;
  • Support organizations prioritise consideration of their most critical impacts, recognising the challenge of scale in tackling biodiversity influences;
  • Implement requirements for biodiversity-related human rights impacts, namely on indigenous peoples, local communities and workers;
  • Consider reporting throughout the supply chain, as many biodiversity impacts are outside the scope of an organisation’s own operations;
  • Add new disclosures related to reasons of biodiversity loss, including climate change, pollution, and overexploitation of resources.

Judy Kuszewski, Chair of the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) – which is responsible for setting the GRI Standards – said:

“It is abundantly clear that biodiversity is under siege, with human activity the leading cause. The effects of biodiversity loss are directly undermining the sustainable development agenda and, if it continues unabated, will have disastrous consequences – on the environment, the economy and people.

Against this backdrop, and on the eve of the UN Biodiversity COP, I’m pleased that our proposal for a major update to the GRI Biodiversity Topic Standard is available for public comment. The revision process has seen an unprecedented level of collaboration with leading experts, so that the final Standard can provide the internationally accepted best practice for transparency on biodiversity impacts.

I encourage all stakeholders and interested parties to participate in this consultation, because we need a standard that will be the global focal point for accountability on biodiversity impacts. Improved reporting – across sectors, regions and supply chains – is crucial for addressing information gaps and informing global solutions."

To align the GRI Standard with modern advances in the field, the revision process implemented extensive engagement with other biodiversity frameworks and initiatives. IPBES, CDP, the Align project, Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials, and the Accountability Framework were all present on the technical committee and led the review, while the draft was influenced by input from the Science Based Target Network (SBTN), Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and WBA Nature Benchmark.

The exposure draft is open for public comment until 28 February, 2023. Feedback will follow, be deliberated on ahead of an anticipated publication date for the final Standard in Q3/Q4 OF 2023.

To establish a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework is the objective of COP15. Reinforcing the size of the task, the previous framework resulted in only six of 20 targets being partially met by the 2020 deadline.

Only 40% of 5,800 leading companies around the world currently report on biodiversity as recently revealed in the KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting (October 2022) despite disclosures integrating GRI Standards as being widespread.  

Source: GRI