What are ESG reports?

In an ESG report or sustainability report, a company provides insight into its strategy and policy on sustainability, how it implements it and how it scores on the various metrics. Sustainability, or ESG, stands for Environment, Social and Governance.

Why sustainability reporting?

In the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to limit global warming to below 2° Celsius, with a clear view of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The European Union has translated this into measures and policies (the Green Deal) to be climate neutral by 2050. One of these measures is that companies must provide a sustainability report to show how sustainable they are enabling investors and banks can decide where to invest or provide credit. The Corporate Sustainability Report Directory (CSRD) includes the obligation to prepare such a sustainability report. In the coming years, more and more companies will have to comply with this CSRD (and other directives). To avoid having to prepare retrospective data or reports, it is advisable to start now. Before you have determined what and how you will report, you will first have to think about what you will report on.

Starting point of the sustainability report is the principle of financial materiality (e.g. the influence of climate change on the company) and impact materiality (influence of the company on its environment). Together they form the ‘double materiality’: the impact on and the impact of the company.

A sustainability report matters not only to financial shareholders (shareholders, banks, financiers) but also to employees, customers, local residents, interest groups and other stakeholders.

Reading guideline

There’s a jungle of standards, frameworks, legislation and mandatory & voluntary ESG disclosure. Goal 17 provides an overview of current legislation, most applied standards and underlying reporting frameworks.

European legislation (e.g., the Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directory) requires large companies to prepare sustainability reports from 2024/2025 using a binding reporting standard: the European Sustainable Reporting Standards. Financial market participants and financial advisers, through the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, were already required to integrate sustainability risks into their investment decisions since 2021. The EU taxonomy is a classification system developed by the EU to define economic activities considered environmentally sustainable.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) are independent, international standard-setting organisation that helps companies, governments and other organisations take responsibility for, and clearly communicate their impact on the world.

Organisations such as Carbon Disclosure Project, Green House Gas Protocol and STBi provide standards, systems and methodologies for measuring and reporting CO2 emissions, climate change, water security and deforestation.

Finally, the Human Rights Due Dilligence is an approach by which companies minimise their negative impacts on human rights and maximise their positive impacts.

Want to know what Goal 17 can do for you?
Contact us at info@goal17.eco or call Marcel Veenhuizen, +31 6 2245 7831 to learn more.

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Global Reporting Initiative

What is Global Reporting Initiative? Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent, international standard-setting organisation that helps companies, governments and other organisations take responsibility for,

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EU taxonomy


What is the EU-taxonomy? The EU Taxonomy is a classification system developed by the European Union (EU) to identify and define economic activities that are

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