Convergence of GRI and IFC Performance Standards?

As noted earlier, GRI and ICMM launched the new GRI Metals and Mining Sector Supplement during the annual mining convention of PDAC in early March 2010. The new Sector Supplement integrated many references to the IFC Performance Standards and suggests increasing convergence amongst these internationally recognized guidelines.

Mining projects in emerging markets seeking commercial and bi/multi/lateral finance and political risk insurance need to ensure that their development plans conform to the IFC Performance Standards (and its derivative, the Equator Principles). These guidelines tend to be incorporated in bankable feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments (better known as ESIAs or SEAs). And conformance of project plans and performance against these guidelines are typically reviewed by Independent Engineers on behalf of financiers. Now, GRI has integrated keyIFC Performance Standards into the GRI Metals and Mining Sector Supplement . Specific references have been identified further below.

How do you think will the publication of the new GRI Mining and Metals Sector Supplement and/or linkage with IFC Performance Standards influence sustainability reporting amongst mining companies (juniors, mid-tier, majors)? How will these new Sector Supplements relate to PDAC’s e3plus, A Framework for Responsible Exploration, and MAC’s Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) frameworks?

Indicator Protocols - Society (SO)

SO1 (Nature, scope, and effectiveness of any programs and practices that assess and manage the impacts of operations on communities, including entering, operating, and exiting) lists IFC Performance Standard 1 (Social and Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Systems) as its reference.

MM6 (Number and description of significant disputes relating to land use, customary rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples) and MM7 (The extent to which grievance mechanisms were used to resolve disputes relating to land use, customary rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, and the outcomes) both use as their references IFC Performance Standard 1 (Social and Environmental Assessment and Management System) and IFC Performance Standard 7 (Indigenous Peoples).

MM9 (Sites where resettlements took place, the number of households resettled in each, and how their livelihoods were affected in the process) uses IFC Performance Standard 5 on Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement as its reference.

Indicator Protocols Environment (EN)

 MM2 (The number and percentage of total sites identified as requiring biodiversity management plans according to stated criteria, and the number (percentage) of those sites with plans in place) refers to IFC Performance Standard 6 on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resource Management.

EN20  (NOx, SOx, and other significant air emissions by type and weight) includes as one of its references IFC’s Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines.

Indicator Protocols Set on Human Rights (HR)

 MM5 (Total number of operations taking place in or adjacent to Indigenous Peoples’ territories, and number and percentage of operations or sites where there are formal agreements with Indigenous Peoples’ communities) uses IFC’s Performance Standard 7 (pertaining to Indigenous Peoples) as one of its references.

5 Comments to Convergence of GRI and IFC Performance Standards?

  1. Adam McEniry says:

    I see the converging of standards as a positive step in assisting companies to report and integrate sustainability in their operations. The multiplicity of standards in existence can lead to a delay in their implementation by the sheer fact of presenting companies multiple choices to research, and this perceived substitute-ability can water down the perceived importance of any single one. The Equator Principles were the first initiative to provide clarity, and certainly the most compelling business case (bank financing), to implement a particular standard.

    In this case the convergence of IFC Performance Standards with GRI Reporting (two of the most widely developed and internationally sanctioned standards) would appear to make sense in that Equator Bank financed projects require ongoing monitoring anyhow. This development will likely have greater influence on mid-tier to larger companies already committing to IFC standard projects for financing or social license reasons.

    There is already a considerable amount of overlap between these and other standards (e.g. PDAC’s E3+, MAC’s Towards Sustainable Mining). E3 and TSM provide a good degree of detail on how to operationalise management of the sustainability requirements of the Performance Standards and the GRI indicators. What could provide a further degree of clarity here is the convergence of TSM guidelines into GRI reporting for operations, and likewise with respect to E3 for exploration activity.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Adam. I think mining companies which are meeting TSM requiremenst are already covering many of the key issues also covered by GRI. Not sure if these companies are already trying to get a bigger bang for their systems/assurance/communication/credibility buck by doing GRI reporting. Stop right there – aren’t many leading MAC companies also ICMM member companies and thus also committed to GRI-type reporting…?

  3. See also new blog posting “IFC gets out vuvuzela for sustainability reporting” posted here:

  4. […] noted in an earlier blog, GRI launched its Metals and Mining Sector Supplement during PDAC’s 78th Annual Conference held […]

  5. […] about the MMSS and related sector specific indicators, please visit one of my older blog entries: Convergence of GRI and IFC Performance Standards? The full MMSS sector guidelines can be downloaded […]

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