The Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR), the not-for-profit project looking to establish a single, standardized sustainability rating framework for companies, has been launched with the support of heavy hitters such as Bloomberg and TIAA–CREF.
GISR says it aims to create a benchmark standard “rooted in technical excellence, impeccable integrity, and continuous improvement”.
GISR was first mooted more than a year ago (see Responsible Investor coverage here). It grew out of sustainability think tank the Tellus Institute’s ‘Corporation 20/20’ project whose backers include major corporations such as General Electric Co., Hewlett-Packard, Citigroup and State Street Corp. Domini Social Investments, KLD (now part of MSCI), the Corporate Library, Greenpeace and the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) were also supporters.
It has now gone ‘live’, under the auspices of investor coalition Ceres and Tellus. The GISR will be modelled on the GRI – the de facto global standard used by 2,000 companies for reporting on environmental and social performance. News and data giant Bloomberg, US pension investor TIAA–CREF and socially responsible funds firm Calvert are members.
“We welcome the opportunity to be a part of the GISR coalition to help bring coherence, transparency and coordination to sustainability ratings,” said Amy Muska O’Brien, Director of Global Social & Community Investing at TIAA–CREF.The founders would like to see the GISR system embedded in stock exchange listing requirements, in disclosure requirements of securities regulation and in the contractual relationships between asset owners and managers.
Over the next year, GISR will first evaluate the quality of existing ratings then design a best-practice ratings framework. A Board of Directors will evolve with the expectation that GISR will morph into a stand-alone, non-profit, global organization.
Ceres and Tellus says the proliferation of scores of sustainability ratings providers has “spawned inconsistent and often opaque approaches” and sometimes conflicts of interest among raters and rated companies.
“The moment is right for creation of an independent, non-commercial framework that builds on the current system’s strengths and, corrects its shortcomings, thereby unleashing the full power of ratings to drive sustainability deep into capital, procurement and consumer markets,” they said in a statement.
“GISR will help drive capital, procurement and consumer markets toward companies committed to continuously higher standards of sustainability excellence,” said Tellus Senior Fellow Allen White, one of the founders of the GRI.
Ceres has more than 80 household name corporations in its company network, firms such as Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonalds, General Motors, Ford, eBay etc. The GISR website is set to give live shortly. GISR launch announcement