Sustainability Reporting: What to expect from the GRI sector-specific standard for agriculture, aquaculture and fishing

Dr. Thijs Willaert Environment, News

Conserving biodiversity and natural resources, mitigating climate change, and making agricultural and fishing practices more sustainable are essential to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To support existing efforts and increase transparency, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is preparing its first sector-specific standard, aimed at organizations in the agriculture, aquaculture and fishing sectors.

In the field of sustainability reporting, the non-profit multi-stakeholder initiative GRI holds an important position. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides standards for sustainability reporting that are used by organizations in over 90 countries.

Since December 2019, a new GRI working group has been deliberating on the first GRI Sector Standard Project, which is specifically defined for the agriculture and fishing sectors. The working group consists of 19 members representing 14 countries and six regions, covering a wide range of commodities and products from the agriculture, aquaculture and fishing sectors.

Until recently, the new Sector Standard for Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fishing was in the public comment period, which ended on July 30, 2021. This phase is particularly relevant as it tests the clarity, feasibility, completeness, and relevance of the content to ensure that all stakeholders can benefit from the standard.

Objectives for the project

The GRI Sector Standard Project for Agriculture, Aquaculture and fishing is a pilot project for the GRI Sector Program. The project aims to identify and describe the key impacts and stakeholder concerns for the agriculture, aquaculture and fishery sectors from a sustainable development perspective. This serves as a basis for increased transparency and more consistent reporting by organizations in this sector. The GRI Sector Standard project has recognized that the agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries sectors share common characteristics as producers of food and have similar impacts on people, the economy and, to some extent, the environment, so they are grouped together as one.

The sector standard can be applied to all organizations in this sector regardless of geographic location.

In identifying the applicable sector standard, organizations should consider their primary sector. If the organization has significant activities in more than one sector, it must apply all applicable sector standards.


The new sector-specific standard for agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture is expected to be published in the first quarter of 2022. It is not yet known when its use will become mandatory, but we will keep you informed of the latest developments.

In parallel with the development of the sector program, the GRI Universal Standards will be revised and will be published in October 2021.

Key proposals

The sector-specific draft identifies 26 topics as relevant to the agriculture, fishing and aquaculture sectors. In doing so, each topic describes the most important impacts in that sector and lists disclosures identified by the sectors as relevant for reporting. However, it remains the responsibility of the reporting organization to assess which topics are relevant to their reporting. More detailed disclosures and guidance on the topics can be found in the exposure draft linked here.

What DQS can do for you

DQS is a licensed assurance provider for sustainability reporting. An external review by DQS confirms the credibility and reliability of your sustainability report.

Contact us, we would be happy to discuss your project! For the latest news on sustainability, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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