The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has finalised and published its updated biodiversity standard, with some initially planned new requirements reclassified as recommendations to reduce the reporting burden on companies.
Biodiversity disclosures were first included in the GRI guidelines in 2000. Initially, they consisted of four indicators: amount of land affected by the organisation; habitat changes due to operations; impacts on protected areas; and objectives, programmes and targets for protecting and restoring native ecosystems and species.
Key revisions were made over the years and, in 2016, the guidelines were turned into a biodiversity standard. However, no substantial changes were made to the biodiversity disclosures.
In 2021, the GRI announced plans to revise the standard to ensure it represents international best practice.
A draft of the revised standard, put out for consultation in 2022, featured significant updates.
New proposed requirements included: reporting across the supply chain on the most significant impacts on biodiversity; the provision of specific information on the location of operational sites with the most significant impacts on biodiversity; disclosure on direct drivers of biodiversity loss; and reporting on impact on people resulting from an organisation’s impacts on biodiversity.
When Responsible Investor spoke to Elodie Chêne, senior standards manager at GRI, last month she said corporates and other stakeholders had flagged several challenges regarding the revisions.
To address these concerns, she said at the time that the GRI had reviewed the requirements to report on supply chain impacts and state of biodiversity “to ease the reporting challenges while keeping in line with growing reporting expectations, including those set by the Global Biodiversity Framework”.
Following the publication on Thursday, Chêne explained that some reporting disclosures that were introduced as new requirements in the draft standard have been changed to recommendations, including some supply chain-related and site-specific disclosures.
Meanwhile, the GRI has added new requirements in the final revision, for example on disclosures regarding offsets. If corporates use biodiversity-related offsets, they will have to disclose the goals of the project, the geographic location, whether and how principles of good offset practices are met, and whether and how the offset is certified or verified by a third party.
The GRI has also elevated a requirement for a company to explain “how it determined which of its sites and which products and services in its supply chain have the most significant actual and potential impacts on biodiversity”.
Originally part of a broader disclosure category, it has been upgraded to a standalone category called “identification of biodiversity impacts”.
Chêne said: “Although the content was covered in the exposure draft, this allows reporting companies to more clearly separate the identification of impacts from the reporting of location information, and provides more detailed guidance on how organisations can identify their most significant impacts in their value chain.”
On location disclosure, Chêne said the GRI has fully aligned this with ecologically sensitive areas defined by the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures.
The updated standard will formally come into effect for reporting on 1 January 2026. During the next two years, GRI will pilot the use of the standard with early adopters, with priority given to GRI Community members.