The launch on Thursday (January 25) of a major update to the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Biodiversity Standard highlights the urgency with which biodiversity is becoming more important to Asian corporates and investors.
To put things in context, the GRI’s Biodiversity Standard is designed to enhance transparency in financial reporting guidelines under the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). Although they are separate organizations, the TNFD collaborates closely with the GRI to ensure alignment of TNFD recommendations and GRI standards.
The newly launched standard, billed as GRI 101: Biodiversity 2024, is a major update on the existing biodiversity standard, and is necessary because, according to a statement issued by the GRI on January 25, “nature faces unprecedented pressures, with human activity the leading cause of one million animal and plant species being pushed to the brink of extinction.”
The last GRI Biodiversity Standard was issued in 2016, and that was a spin-off of the group’s 2000 standard, which first introduced biodiversity into its broader standards. However, in the 2016 version, there were no substantial changes to the biodiversity disclosures.
The newly-launched guidelines are the product of a consultation process that ended in February 2023, during which the GRI circulated a set of biodiversity exposure draft guidelines. The 2024 standard is designed to enable companies to meet growing demands from multiple stakeholders for information on biodiversity impacts by providing updated guidelines covering:
- Full transparency throughout the supply chain, where often the most significant impacts on biodiversity can go under reported
- Location-specific reporting on impacts, including countries and jurisdictions, with detailed information on the place and size of operational sites
- New disclosures on the direct drivers of biodiversity loss, covering land use, climate change, overexploitation, pollution and invasive species
- Requirements for reporting impacts on society, including those on communities and indigenous peoples, and how organizations engage with local groups in the restoration of affected ecosystems.
The revised standard, the GRI notes, builds on key global developments in the biodiversity field, such as the UN Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the Science Based Target Network and the TNFD.
“The new GRI Biodiversity Standard arrives at a time when biodiversity is on a precipice: the latest IPBES [Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services] assessment warns that biodiversity is declining in every region; while 50% of the global economy is under threat due to biodiversity loss [according to World Economic Forum analysis],” the statement says. “Meanwhile, the internationally-agreed GBF is galvanizing action to protect biodiversity, with Target 15 requiring businesses to disclose and reduce biodiversity-related risks and impacts.”
The launch of the GRI Biodiversity Standards strengthens the focus on the fact that the health of the global economy depends on nature and protecting biodiversity.
The World Economic Forum estimates that US$44 trillion value generation, representing more than 50% of global GDP, is dependent on nature, biodiversity and the services it supports.
“The updated GRI Standard sets a new bar for transparency on biodiversity impacts,” says Carol Adams, chair of the GRI Global Sustainability Standards Board. “It will support detailed, location-specific reporting, both within an organization’s operations and throughout its supply chain, ensuring stakeholders can assess how impacts on biodiversity are mitigated and reduced. Identifying and managing an organization’s most significant impacts is critical to understanding dependencies and risks.”