The number of frameworks, guidelines and standards has mushroomed over the past 10 years. According to the 2020 report from Carrots & Sticks, a website that aggregates sustainability reporting instruments, it assessed more than 600 voluntary and mandatory provisions in 87 countries. Of these, 167 reference the Global Reporting Initiative, and most are issued by governments and followed by financial market regulators. 

In the last decade, regulations on sustainability reporting have rapidly evolved, recognizing the central role of transparency in advancing responsible business conduct. The field of sustainability reporting has also expanded not only in quantity but also in the type of information required,” Thijs Reuten, head of policy at the Global Reporting Initiative, told Lubes’n’Greases. 

The foremost of them constitute what is colloquially known as the “big five” frameworks. They are the Global Reporting Initiative, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, the Carbon Disclosure Project (now just CDP), the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure and the Workplace Disclosures Initiative. 

The choice of which one to use can be confusing, but is driven by both the needs of the company and the audience it wants to communicate with. 

“You represent your industry, [so] you might want to reach certain audiences and talk about certain issues. A different industry or a different-sized company might have different goals. So it’s really up to the company to develop a system out of the tools that are right now on the market and evolving with the market, to identify the best possible strategy for them,” Ekaterina Hardin, research analysts and sector lead for extractives and mineral process at SASB, told Lubes’n’Greases. 

While GRI looks at a company’s impact on the world outside, SASB looks at the world’s impacts on the company. 

“SASB standards are complementary to any other framework that a company can choose to report to. And the key complement that SASB’s framework provides is it’s industry specific,” said Hardin. 

The list below links to summaries of some of the commonly used frameworks and standards.