Leading Global Voices in Accountability to Gather in Washington
There is still time to register for the 2nd International GRI Symposium, to be held in Washington, D.C., USA from November 13-15, 2000. The symposium co-organisers have lined up an impressive roster of speakers from a broad spectrum of stakeholder groups from around the world. Some of the confirmed luminary speakers are:
* Oronto Douglas, Director, Friends of the Earth – Nigeria
* John Elkington, Chairman, SustainAbility Ltd.
* John Evans, General Secretary, Trade * Union Advisory Committee to OECD
* Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute
* John Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO
* Klaus Topfer, Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
* Timothy Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation
Leaders from business, the United Nations, securities regulation, financial firms, and labour, human rights, environmental and accounting organisations will explore how investment, corporate accountability, and disclosure can be harnessed to advance progress towards sustainability. Another key activity at the Symposium is to identify the principal messages to the GRI in shaping the governance, scope, and operations of the permanent institution that is now in the planning stage. More than 25 countries are represented on the confirmed delegate list.
GRI Sums Up at UN Global Compact Meeting
Representatives of the GRI attended a summer meeting held at the United Nations in New York, that focused on the Global Compact, a multi-stakeholder project spearheaded by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The Global Compact is a voluntary initiative that promotes corporate transparency and accountability by advancing universal values – human, environmental, labour rights – in business operations around the world. The Compact challenges business leaders to adopt and apply nine principles. The meeting attracted business leaders from throughout the world as well as numerous non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives. Robert Massie, GRI Steering Committee Chair, was asked by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to sum up the meeting. In his concluding remarks, he stressed that building corporate credibility and accountability through disclosure is integral to the credibility of the Global Compact and other voluntary initiatives.
The Road Show
In its ongoing efforts to reach out and engage and inform stakeholders from all over the world, members of the GRI Steering Committee and Secretariat have presented and discussed the GRI and the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines at numerous functions and locales.
UNEP and the European Environment Agency hosted a European briefing in Paris in September. More than 40 delegates from government, business, NGOs and foundations provided input on the future role and structure of the Initiative. The GRI was also discussed at two subsequent Paris meetings on voluntary initiatives and with industry associations, attended by 40 delegates.
Nine organisations hosted two groundbreaking South Asian briefings in September in Delhi and Mumbai. More than 200 representatives of business, NGOs and government from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh participated in lively discussions on transparency and reporting in a country facing rapid economic growth, increasing integration in the global economy, and rising transparency expectations. The seeds were planted for a GRI South Asian Alliance.
The four United Kingdom organisations represented on the GRI Steering Committee (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Institute for Social and Ethical Accountability, New Economics Foundation, and SustainAbility Ltd.) hosted a UK briefing in London in early October attended by 100 individuals.
A meeting hosted by the German Chemical Federation in Frankfurt discussed the GRI in the context of German reporting practices. Over 50 German corporations, financial institutions, NGOs and institutes participated.
In the Netherlands, a succesfull GRI meeting was organised by DHV, VBDO and SNS Asset Management. Over 150 Dutch Corporations, NGOs, financial institutions and consultants participated.
In the last several months the GRI has been presented to hundreds of people at meetings and conferences in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, UK, and USA. Stakeholder groups represented included the financial services industry, chemical industry, other industry sectors, academia, governments, human rights, labour, community and environmental organisations, and others.
Always Room for Improvement
Although the June 2000 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines are receiving enthusiastic interest, we realize that there are still areas in the Guidelines that need improvement. The GRI Steering Committee and Secretariat are currently shaping the structure and process for formal feedback. The objective is to ensure broad-based input to inform development of the 2002 version of the Guidelines. Prior to establishment of a formal feedback procedure, there are two channels through which interested parties can immediately provide input.
Working groups on Measurement and Verification actively solicit input on, respectively, indicators in the June 2000 Guidelines and the appropriate role of GRI in future verification of GRI reports.
Follow the Leaders
In addition to the 21 companies that participated in the pilot test of the Guidelines, the Secretariat has been informed that the following companies have recently released reports that were informed by the Guidelines.
* American Home Products (USA)
* Carillion (UK)
* Landcare Research (New Zealand)
* Scandiflex (Sweden)
* South African Breweries (South Africa)
* Swedish Meats (Sweden)
* TransAlta (Canada)
* Vauxhall Motors Ltd. (UK)
Since following the Guidelines is entirely voluntary, companies are not obligated to inform GRI of adoption or use. However, to monitor GRI’s progress and identify trends and needs for GRI outreach, the Secretariat asks all such companies to do so at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Content Added to www.globalreporting.org
Next time you visit www.globalreporting.org you will notice some changes and additions.
Sustainability Reporting Guidelines – The Guidelines are now available to download in PDF format in English, Dutch, German and Japanese. Other translations are underway and will be added in the next couple of months. Hard copies of the English and Japanese versions are currently available (email@example.com).
The US Environmental Protection Agency, in designing their new voluntary program known as Performance Track, modelled their disclosure requirements on the environmental component of the GRI’s Guidelines.
The European Union, in exploring corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure, is modelling their draft on the GRI’s Guidelines.
The Japanese Environment Agency and the Japanese Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI)/Japanese Environmental Management Association (JEMAI) are considering modelling new requirements on the GRI’s Guidelines