GRI updates biodiversity standard to meet stakeholder demand

Helps companies disclose significant operational and supply chain biodiversity impacts

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has published a major update to its biodiversity standard to enable companies to meet the growing demands from multiple stakeholders for information on biodiversity impacts.

With human activity the leading cause for as many as one million animal and plant species being pushed to the brink of extinction, GRI 101: Biodiversity 2024 is designed to support organisations around the world to comprehensively disclose their most significant impacts on biodiversity throughout their operations and supply chains.

GRI will pilot the use of the standard with early adopters over the next two years, with companies expected to begin reporting on it at large from 1 January 2026.

The revised GRI standard builds on key global developments in the biodiversity field, such as the UN Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, the Science-based Target Network and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures.

“The impacts of biodiversity loss stem well beyond the natural environment, undermining progress of the SDGs and having devastating consequences for people, while it is also a multiplying factor in the climate crisis. Understanding the impacts that organisations have is therefore a crucial aspect of implementing global solutions to halt and even reverse the damage and address existential threats,” said Carol Adams, chair of the GRI Global Sustainability Standards Board.

“The updated GRI Standard sets a new bar for transparency on biodiversity impacts. It will support detailed, location-specific reporting, both within an organisation’s operations and throughout its supply chain, ensuring stakeholders can assess how impacts on biodiversity are mitigated and reduced. Identifying and managing an organisation’s most significant impacts is critical to understanding dependencies and risks.”

The updated biodiversity standard aims to deliver on four key aspects:

  • Full transparency throughout the supply chain – often where 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 organisations engage with local groups in the restoration of affected ecosystems.

GRI’s update comes at a crucial time, with the latest Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services assessment warning that biodiversity is declining in every region, while 50% of the global economy is under threat due to biodiversity loss, according to analysis from the World Economic Forum.

Meanwhile, the internationally agreed Global Biodiversity Framework is galvanising action to protect biodiversity, with Target 15 requiring businesses to disclose and reduce biodiversity-related risks and impacts.

Julia Oliva, policy director at the Union for Ethical BioTrade, commented: “There has been a fundamental shift in expectations around companies’ responsibilities related to biodiversity. Companies need to take urgent action to reverse biodiversity loss, restore nature and respect the rights, roles and contributions of people along supply chains. When these actions not only take place but are validated and communicated via a common reporting structure such as GRI, all stakeholders benefit from such transparency.”

“We know unless we take urgent action to transform our economy, a million species will be at risk of extinction. Yet we have shown it is possible to improve the natural world and know what is needed to turn things around,” added Martin Harper, CEO of BirdLife International.

“Understanding and acting on business impacts in critical. The updated GRI biodiversity standard makes me optimistic of our collective power to shape the future that we want and nature needs.”