It might sound like an oxymoron but there were interesting developments over at the UN last week as its Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, the UN Global Compact, announced a major new alliance with business governance best practice body the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
The exact nature of the alliance remains hazy but under the agreement the UN is throwing its weight behind GRI's new G3 sustainability reporting guidelines, which were launched this August. The guidelines are effectively a how to guide for drawing up sustainability reports, providing CSR officers with a framework on what to include and how to structure a report.
Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, said that the alliance made sense. “Companies participating in both initiatives have long stressed the understanding that the GRI is a practical expression of the Global Compact”, he said. “While organisationally the Compact and GRI will remain separate and distinct, we believe that this alliance will increase the value proposition for companies around the world”.
Petra van Hoeken, Global Head of Sustainable Development at ABN AMRO welcomed the move claiming that the alliance would help combat the "bewildering array of codes, standards, and initiatives have arisen resulting in a state of fragmentation with respect to corporate citizenship [sustainability] strategy and execution".
As a first step the UN will try and encourage the 3,000 companies and stakeholders included in its Global Compact to adopt the G3 guidelines.
A new guide has been launched, catchily titled “Making the Connection: Using GRI’s G3 Reporting Guidelines for the UN Global Compact’s Communication on Progress”, and including guidelines on how Global Compact participants can use the G3 Guidelines to fulfill their commitment to the Compact by reporting on their progress implementing its 10 principles on responsible governance.
This joins another free web based tool from the UN called OneReport Communication on Progress Publisher, which has been developed to help firms prepare and publish progress reports on integrating the UN's ten principles into day-to-day business operations and practices.
The alliance is another coup for GRI, which is seeing its G3 guidelines emerge as the global standard for firms looking to develop sustainability, environmental or CSR reports.
Recently, GreenBiz.com reported a group of major US institutional investors have also endorsed the G3 standards, calling on S&P 500 companies to adopt the latest set of guidelines - which elevate climate change to a key disclosure topic that firms should include in public reports.
With both heavyweight investors and global legislators endorsing the G3 standards in quick succession any CSR officer or environmentally conscious execs unfamiliar with the framework would be advised to take a look at it before their shareholders start insisting they adopt it.
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