Origins of 1st GRI-certified Training in North America

Over a decade ago, I started leveraging my professional background as an environmental and social specialist at the European Bank (EBRD) and head of ESG/CSR Research at Fitch’s CoreRatings (divested to DNV and Innovest), to assist companies with their sustainability strategy and disclosure. I was fascinated how structured engagement created the space for sustainability-oriented performance improvement, and disciplined GRI-type reporting enabled more meaningful ESG research and benchmarking.

Facilitated materiality workshops with Lucara Botswana management and contractors

At the time, I also served as VP of LEAD Canada, which is part of LEAD International, a networked NGO with a mission to inspire and build leadership capacity for sustainable development. 

So, in 2008, with visionary grant support from LEAD International, sponsorship from Deloitte, Intertek and HSBC, we developed and successfully launched the first GRI-certified training courses in North America. All told, I had the opportunity to co-deliver a dozen GRI-certified courses hosted by Deloitte and Intertek across Canada and the USA before leaving LEAD Canada and others becoming involved in delivering the courses.

"Historical" marketing collateral for the first GRI-certified training courses in North America

Fast forward: LEAD Canada continues to offer GRI-certified training, while my team at Prizma - a niche ESG advisory practice making projects more bankable, credible and sustainable - continues to remain involved in the sustainability strategy and reporting field. Recent GRI-related assignments include sustainability reporting engagements for Lundin Gold, which operates in Ecuador, and Lucara Diamond, which operates in Botswana (see 1-minute clip below). It has been a real privilege accompanying these two – and a few other – organizations on their sustainability and reporting journeys over the years.

Stakeholder engagement workshops

So, continuing Prizma’s membership with the GRI Community for 2019 was not a tough call. And continuing to pursue collaboration opportunities with LEAD Fellows remains On my mind. The most recent example involved Luisa Montes, a LEAD Mexico Fellow. Together, we reviewed benefit sharing of the wind farm industry in Mexico on behalf of the World Bank Group.

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