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Aurecon hosts South African launch of new global GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards

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Sonja De Klerk, Aurecon’s Head of Quality, Environment & Sustainability

10 November 2016 - South Africa becomes early adopter of global standards for sustainability reporting. The new standards will improve corporate transparency in environmental and social issues among South African businesses.

GRI today announced the South African launch of its new GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards. South Africa is just the third country to hold an event launching the new standards, following events in the United States and Brazil.

The launch took place at a specially-convened event at the Aurecon Centre in Tshwane, the local headquarters of global engineering and infrastructure advisory company, Aurecon. The company was the first major engineering consultancy to join the GRI Gold Community program globally.

GRI is an international, independent, standards organisation based in the Netherlands. “The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards give companies a common language for disclosing non-financial information with the goal of enhancing corporate transparency worldwide. The Standards represent the global best practice for sustainability reporting,” says Bastian Buck, Director Standards, GRI.

The new Standards, replacing the GRI G4 Guidelines, are a set of 36 modular standards that facilitate corporate reporting on topics such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, and labour practices. The new format allows GRI to update individual topics based on market and sustainability needs, without requiring revisions to the entire set of GRI Standards.

Lasting impact

Sonja De Klerk, Aurecon’s Head of Quality, Environment & Sustainability, was among the leading industry figures who spoke at the launch event. She said the new standards would have a positive and lasting environmental impact on the ongoing transformation of South Africa

“Sustainability remains one of the most important issues facing our country, and our planet, and construction and infrastructure development has a major role to play in addressing these challenges. Sustainability reporting encourages companies to be more transparent, in an age when organisations are no longer evaluated solely on the money they generate for shareholders, but the shared value they create for communities and the way in which they tackle issues such as environmental protection. We are delighted to support this important initiative.”

In South Africa, the launch of the new standards is expected to both support the growth of a new era in sustainable reporting and drive environmental and social progression. The standards will significantly impact the way companies report to the stock exchange and how they present themselves to investors and stakeholders. The change in the standards is relevant to all Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed companies since JSE is part of the Sustainable Exchanges initiative and has made it mandatory for listed companies to issue formal sustainability/integrated reports.

“We are very pleased to be able to stage the event at the Aurecon offices, as the company has been a proactive supporter of both sustainability and our standards programme. It’s exciting to see so many companies from so many different industries represented at the event – it demonstrates the growing interest business has in sustainable development," concludes Buck.

The launch of the standards at the Aurecon offices included a presentation by the GRI Global Sustainability Standards Board; a discussion on stakeholder perspectives on GRI Standards; and a session on sustainability reporting in the context of addressing poverty.

Attendees included representatives from leading consulting firms, architects, developers, construction stakeholders, as well as major banks, accounting firms, mining houses, industrials, investment firms, academia, NGOs and government offices from across South Africa. 

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