In January 2023, the European Union adopted the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directory. The law requires companies to provide a sustainability report in addition to their annual financial report. What this sustainability report should look like is laid down in the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), adopted in July 2023. The CSRD must be enshrined in the laws of European member states by June 30, 2024.
Introduction of the CSRD
The CSRD is being phased in, meaning that obligation to comply with the law depends on turnover, balance sheet total and number of employees.
As of Jan. 1, 2025, large companies, i.e., those meeting two of the three criteria below, must provide their first report for 2024:
- > 250 employees
- > € 40 million in sales
- > € 20 million balance sheet total
As of Jan. 1, 2026, the limit shifts to:
- Between 10 and 250 employees
- Turnover between €700,000 and €40 million
- € 350,000 – € 20 million balance sheet total
Companies that do not comply with CSRD legislation face serious risks (measures may vary by country). First, fines can be imposed if companies do not comply with the law. In addition, it becomes more difficult for these companies to attract capital and/or employees. Some countries will publish the names of companies that do not publish a sustainability report (“naming & shaming”), which increases the likelihood that consumers will turn away from the company. In short, plenty of reasons to take CSRD seriously and ensure accurate and complete Environmental, Social & Governance reporting at the time it is required by law.
European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS)
The ESRS is the set of standards that companies must use to comply with the CSRD.
There are 12 standards available with requirements for companies to report on.
The “cross cutting” standards include General Requirements (ESRS 1) and General Disclosures (ESRS 2) that each organization must complete. ESRS 1 contains general requirements and explains key concepts such as dual materiality. ESRS 2 contains the disclosure requirements, for example on strategy, risks & opportunities and goals.
In addition to the “cross cutting” standards, three “topical” standards are used:
- Environmental (ESRS E1 through E5).
- Social (ESRS S1 to S4)
- Governance (ESRS G1)
Each standard contains “disclosure requirements,” topics on which the company must report and for which it must set objectives, collect data and describe how it scores on those objectives.
- The “environmental standard,” the most comprehensive standard, outlines the company’s impact on the environment. The standard covers climate change, pollution, water and marine resources, biodiversity and circular economy. Of course, reports must be in line with the European Green Deal and other regulations EU.
- The “social standard” addresses own employees, employees in the value chain, affected communities and customers & end users.
- The “governance standard” includes reporting on strategy, policies, processes and procedures and its own business ethics.
In order to report in accordance with the ESRS standards, companies must perform a double materiality analysis. In this analysis companies determine the impact of the company on people and the environment (impact materiality) and the impact of climate change on the company (financial materiality). An example of material impact is the CO2 emissions of a factory. The risk of flooding as a result of climate change that may affect a supplier is an example of financial impact.
Impact materiality is the “inside-out” perspective, financial materiality the “outside-in” perspective.
Goal 17 and CSRD
Almost 50,000 companies in Europe will have to comply with the CSRD legislation from January 1, 2025. Studies show that many companies are totally unprepared for this: they are unfamiliar with the legislation, are not ready internally, have no idea how to translate the standards into policy, do not have the right data, etc. Not complying with CSRD legislation entails serious risks: customers, investors, employees and local residents expect companies to be aware of their impact on people and the environment and that they are willing and able to account for this.
Goal 17 is experienced in advising and guiding companies that are serious about sustainability. Our consultants know the standards (oa GRI certified professionals), have experience selecting and implementing ESG software, can train employees and lead large sustainability projects.
If you would like to know what Goal 17 can do for you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Marcel Veenhuizen, + 31 6 22 45 78 31.