December 3, 2021

Volume XI, Number 337

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GRI Updates to Universal Standards Emphasize Human Rights Reporting

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) recently published its revised Universal Standards, which go into effect on January 1, 2023. The revision will require all companies reporting in accordance with GRI standards to report on human rights impacts and due diligence obligations. Some companies are already required to report on such human rights impacts under modern slavery legislation like the U.K. Modern Slavery Act or Australia Modern Slavery Act. Under the revised standards, any company reporting in accordance with GRI standards will need to report on human rights impacts regardless of whether they are subject to other human rights reporting regimes.  

GRI explains that “human rights is a subject area, like the environment, and it covers more than 30 specific subjects, as established by authoritative intergovernmental instruments. . . [the update] require[s] all organizations to report basic information on how they meet their responsibility to respect human rights.” GRI’s revision also integrates the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) into the Universal Standards and expressly includes human rights as a General Disclosure topic, which is a level of reporting intended to give insight into an organization’s size and profile to better understand the context surrounding the organization’s impact. Previously, human rights were considered a “Social Topic” where companies were only required to report on the topic if the company determined it to be material. Under the revision, human rights is now considered a material topic, meaning that companies are expected to report on their impacts on human rights.

In addition to updating its Universal Standards, GRI also unveiled its first GRI Sector Standard focused on oil and gas which would be used by industry players to “focus their reporting on the issues that matter most within their sectors.” 39 other sector-specific standards will be developed by GRI in the future, with agriculture, aquaculture, and fishing expected to come next.

© 2021 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 295
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About this Author

Megan L. Morgan Environmental & Business Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Baltimore, MD
Associate

Megan thrives on solving complex environmental problems and finding the most expedient and effective business-forward paths.

Her multi-disciplinary background—Masters of Business Administration, associate counsel at the Department of Veterans Affairs, judicial clerk for the Honorable Senior Judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and intern at multiple federal environmental agencies—ensures a well-rounded perspective in addressing both regulatory and adversarial issues for the firm’s corporate clients.

Corporate Responsibility and...

410-230-1343
Deepti B. Gage Business Litigation Law Clerk Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Associate

Deepti’s business and economics background informs her understanding of the numbers involved in legal matters, whether related to business decisions or litigation.

Deepti was a summer associate with B&D in 2019 and re-joined the firm in November. She assists with FIFRA research and other related assignments. Her interest in law began as an undergraduate while studying abroad in Costa Rica, working with an indigenous group called the Boruca. Her international experience focuses on the circular economy and she continues to build expertise in...

202-789-6091
Kirstin K. Gruver Environmental Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Seattle, WA
Associate

Kirstin Gruver is efficient and responsive to clients' needs.

She maintains a diverse environmental litigation and regulatory practice, working with clients nationwide across industrial sectors with a focus on wetlands and water issues. She also has experience in product stewardship and sustainability matters.

Prior to joining Beveridge & Diamond, Kirstin worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney at the Clark County Prosecutor's office. She also worked as a legal intern with the Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, and as a summer clerk at Earthjustice....

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