Universal Standards

Setting a new global benchmark for sustainability reporting

The importance of these Standards

The revised Universal Standards represent the most significant update since GRI transitioned from providing guidance to setting standards in 2016.

The Universal Standards strengthen the very foundations of all reporting through GRI, delivering the highest level of transparency for organizational impacts on the economy, environment, and people. They are the first and only global reporting standards to fully incorporate reporting on human rights and environmental due diligence, in line with authoritative and intergovernmental instruments as set by the UN and OECD.

The forward-looking approach that underpinned the revision of the Universal Standards means organizations will be best positioned to use their GRI reporting to respond to emerging regulatory disclosure needs, such as the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and the IFRS plans for enterprise value standards.

A new user-friendly modular system now enables all reporting organizations to apply the revised Universal Standards alongside the application of their material Topic Standards, both of which are fully integrated with the new Sector Standards. For a detailed overview of how to navigate the new GRI Standards system, please read our introductory document. More information can also be found in our flyer, FAQ and mapping document, all of which can be accessed below.

The revised Universal Standards are freely available for download. They are in effect for reporting from 1 January 2023, with early adoption encouraged.

Reporting support and training

To help reporters better navigate the changes made to the Universal Standards, we have a list of upcoming webinars:

Online training options are also available, with a new course added to the GRI Academy: Transitioning to the GRI Standards 2021 Update course.

More courses will be added soon. Please check the GRI Academy courses page for regular updates and make sure you are subscribed to receive our Standards-related news.


Basis for conclusions

A 90-day comment public period for the exposure draft of the Standard ran from 11 June to 20 September 2020. You can access 144 submissions from organizations and individuals here.

'Basis for conclusions for the Universal Standards update 2021' provides a summary of the public comments received. It also provides a summary of how the GSSB responded to these comments in the finalization of the Standard.


About the project

Initiated by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) in 2019, the project aimed to review the GRI Universal Standards, which consist of GRI 101: Foundation 2016, GRI 102: General Disclosures 2016 and GRI 103: Management Approach 2016, to improve the quality and consistency of sustainability reporting as well as how organizations use the Standards to disclose their impact on economy, environment, and people. In particular, the project focused on the following:

  • incorporation of human rights disclosures into the GRI Standards
  • incorporation of due diligence concept into GRI 103: Management Approach 2016
  • consideration of revisions to reporting principles and concepts in GRI 101: Foundation 2016
  • consideration of revisions to the reporting model in GRI 101: Foundation 2016
  • consideration of revisions to GRI 102: General Disclosures 2016

The review of the Universal Standards was informed by the recommendations of the GRI Technical Committee on Human Rights Disclosure, a stakeholder group on labor-related disclosures. 

The project followed the GSSB Due Process Protocol, the implementation of which is overseen by the Due Process Oversight Committee. The final approval was granted on 2 July 2021. The project proposal can be found here.




Related documents

GRI Universal Standards explanatory memorandum file 19 Sep 2020 English 349 KB
GRI Universal Standards mapping document file 19 Sep 2020 English 189 KB
GSSB Due Process Protocol 2018 file 18 Oct 2018 English 213 KB
GSSB Terms of Reference file 18 Oct 2018 English 108 KB
GSSB Work Program 2017-2019 file 31 Jan 2018 English 320 KB

Never miss an update

If you are interested in the Universal Standards project, please contact us to sign up for updates

Contact the Universal Standards team