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Carol Adams Appointed to GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board

Carol Adams Appointed to GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board

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An international authority in corporate and public sector reporting is to lead the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), the independent body that sets the GRI Standards. Carol Adams, who for 30 years has worked in sustainability research and leadership roles and is Professor of Accounting at Durham University Business School, has been confirmed as the next GSSB Chair.

Judy Kuszewski, who has served as GSSB Chair since 2017, completes her second and final term at the end of March, with Carol starting on 1 April. The GSSB has an increasingly significant role, at a time when global attention on an organization’s impacts on sustainable development and mandatory accountability requirements are higher than ever before.   

Carol Adams is an internationally renowned researcher in sustainability accounting and reporting, its role in driving change and its implications for practice and policy. She advises the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy on sustainability reporting, and is a member of the Australian Accounting Standards Board’s Sustainability Reporting Advisory Panel. She is also a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and chairs their Sustainability Panel.

Carol recently advised the UNDP in creating SDG Impact Standards, and the UK Government’s Implementation Taskforce on Impact Investing. A past chair (2017-19) of the GRI Stakeholder Council, she has for many years been an active contributor to GRI’s mission.

See related article: ClearFlame Engine Technologies Appoints Cathy Choi as Vice President of Engineering and Chief Sustainability Officer

With a growing recognition of the importance of sustainability reporting, GRI has a huge part to play. I am looking forward to working closely with the GSSB’s expert members, to further widen usage of GRI’s multi-stakeholder standards, which are the global blueprint for quality and comprehensive impact reporting. Identifying and measuring impacts on the economy, environment and society is an essential step in managing an organization’s risks and opportunities, as well as assessing positive and negative impacts on achieving the SDGs. Beyond that, accountability for management approach, strategy, governance oversight and impacts through use of the GRI Standards is critical in driving change, ensuring sustainable development is not side-lined by a narrow focus on financial considerations.”Carol Adams

Once we had explored a very high calibre group of candidates for the role of GSSB Chair, Carol Adams was a clear first choice. Given her expertise in corporate and public sector transparency and sustainability strategy, her evidence-based approach and her passion and belief in the importance of impact reporting, I believe she will continue the excellent work of Judy Kuszewski in leading GRI’s standard setting priorities in the years to come.”Helena Barton, Chair of the GRI Independent Appointments Committee (and Partner at Deloitte)

Over the past six years, I have seen the GRI Standards go from strength to strength, with significant increases in adoption and usage, and new standards launched, such as our Sector Program. I am pleased to be able to hand the baton on to someone as capable and committed as Carol, who I have every confidence will continue to advance the GSSB remit to deliver world-class sustainability reporting standards.”Judy Kuszewski (who is also Chief Executive of Sancroft International Ltd)

I am delighted that Carol has accepted the position of GSSB Chair, which is a crucially important role in ensuring the effective governance of the GRI Standards. I am confident that under her direction the GSSB’s influential position in the reporting landscape, including engagement with EFRAG and the ISSB, will continue to increase. I also want to put on record my enormous gratitude to Judy Kuszewski, who has provided myself and the organization with such excellent guidance and leadership during her period as chair.”Eelco van der Enden, CEO of GRI

Professor Carol Adams MSc PhD CA FAICD has served in advisory roles in the finance and investment sectors, for the United Nations (UNDP, UNCTAD), the International Integrated Reporting Council, and the Commonwealth Education Trust. Carol has held professorship roles in Australia and the UK, including at  Monash University and Glasgow University. She started her career as a financial auditor and has led the development of sustainability reporting and strategy in a public sector organization. Carol is a dual British-Australian national residing in Melbourne.

The GSSB has sole responsibility for the development and approval of the GRI Standards and works exclusively in the public interest, according to a formally defined due process. This 15-member body reflects a balance of technical expertise, global diversity and multi-stakeholder perspectives.

The GSSB Chair must bring evidence based and practical knowledge related to sustainability reporting and its broader context, as well as proven ability to facilitate international multi-stakeholder consensus-seeking processes, and expertise in public interest standard-setting. The Chief Standards Officer (Bastian Buck, who leads the GRI Standards Division) reports directly to the GSSB Chair.

The GRI Standards, the leading global standards for sustainability reporting, are provided as a free public good. They are used each year by more than 11,000 organizations in over 100 countries, including 78% of the world’s largest 250 companies. The GRI Standards were downloaded by users around one million times in 2022, a 45% increase on the previous year.  

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