New GRI Biodiversity Standard

Anna Triponel

February 2, 2024
Our key takeaway: The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework—adopted in 2022 by the governments party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity—aims to create a world where, by 2050, “biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.” It also acknowledges the important role that business has in affecting biodiversity through its activities. With this in mind, the Global Reporting Initiative launched an updated standard on biodiversity which reflects that role and drives companies to account for and disclose the ways that they can impact nature and the people who depend on it. Key among the updates are a renewed and deepened focus on the interconnections between human rights and nature, with new requirements to report on stakeholder engagement of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, grievance mechanisms and, crucially, the ways that companies can adversely impact people through their biodiversity protection measures. Other changes include an expanded scope of reporting that extends to impacts in a company’s supply chain and more details on the specific impacts that they have on localised ecosystems. Although businesses won’t have to meet the new standard until January 2026, they can get ahead of the game by exploring their companies’ impacts on biodiversity and their repercussions on people now. 

The Global Sustainability Standards Board’s Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) launched GRI 101: Biodiversity 2024 standard (24 January 2024) to replace GRI 304:

  • Reporting on impacts to people: The new standard requires companies to report on the way their impacts to biodiversity could impact people, especially Indigenous Peoples and local communities who depend on ecosystem services. These new requirements tie into existing GRI Standards 411: Rights of Indigenous Peoples and 413: Local Communities. Companies will now need to report on how they conduct stakeholder engagement with potentially impacted people throughout any actions they take to restore or rehabilitate ecosystems, including through obtaining Free, Prior and Informed consent and using participatory approaches to biodiversity management (101-2-1-iii). They should also report on how they ensure that people are not negatively impacted by mitigation measures (101-2-f), for example potential impacts on a community’s use of natural resources when an organisation’s offset measures limit access to the area. This includes reporting on how grievance mechanisms are implemented and how company-community conflicts are resolved. Another key change is a series of requirements for reporting on how companies ensure that they respect human rights of local stakeholders and their access to ecosystem services. This includes reporting on fair and equitable sharing of genetic resources and traditional knowledge (101-3); if the company operates near ecologically sensitive areas that are important to indigenous peoples, local communities and other stakeholders (101-5-b-v); and reporting more comprehensively on how the company’s activities might impact ecosystem services and the people who depend on them—including for subsistence and livelihoods, cultural heritage, religious beliefs, recreation and beyond (101-8).
  • Scope of reporting: The previous GRI 304 only required a company to report on the impacts to biodiversity caused by its own operations. GRI 101 expands the scope of reporting to include reporting across the supply chain. Specifically, companies will need to report on which products and services in their supply chain have the most significant impacts on biodiversity (101-4, 101-5 and 101-6) and are recommended to include reporting on impacts in their downstream value chain as well. At the same time, the new standard narrows the previous requirement for companies to report on all impacts to biodiversity and allows them to report only the most significant impacts, recognising the challenges of identifying and measuring the whole range of impacts in both own operations and the supply chain. Disclosure 101-4 provides guidance on determining what a “significant impact” is, for example by metrics like "the sensitivity of the local ecosystem, the presence of threatened species, or people’s reliance on a natural resource.”
  • Reporting additional details on ecosystem impacts: The new standard also emphasises reporting in greater detail the ways in which companies impact biodiversity. For example, companies should provide information on the specific locations where they have the most significant impacts (101-5); how they may contribute to the drivers of biodiversity loss, including “land and sea use change, exploitation of natural resources, pollution, and invasive alien species” (101-6); and the type, size and condition of the ecosystems they impact (101-7).

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