Navigating the new era of sustainability reporting: understanding ESRS and CSRD (part 1)


As the world leans more towards sustainable development, the European Union is taking significant strides to ensure that companies contribute to this vision in a tangible and transparent manner. The introduction of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) marks a pivotal shift in how companies will report on sustainability, promising to revolutionize corporate accountability across Europe.

At the heart of this transformation are the ESRS and CSRD, two acronyms that are quickly becoming central to the corporate sustainability conversation. But what exactly are these standards and directives, and why do they matter? Let's dive in.

The essence of ESRS and CSRD

The ESRS stands for European Sustainability Reporting Standards, a comprehensive set of twelve standards designed to guide companies within the EU on how to report sustainability information. These standards are not just another regulatory requirement; they are a bridge towards a future where sustainability reporting is as routine and rigorous as financial reporting. Starting as early as the 2024 reporting period, these standards will become mandatory for a wide range of companies, marking a significant step towards standardized and comprehensive sustainability disclosures.

Underpinning the ESRS is the CSRD, or Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. This regulatory framework expands the landscape of corporate reporting to include not just financial performance but also environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects. The CSRD casts a wider net than its predecessor, the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), covering large companies, listed SMEs, and subsidiaries that play a significant role in the public interest.

Goals and objectives: a sustainable economy in focus

The objectives of the CSRD are clear and ambitious. It aims to align corporate reporting with the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), pushing the economy towards full sustainability. By legally mandating ESG reporting, the CSRD seeks to enhance transparency, improve data quality for investors, and make SMEs more attractive to investors by showcasing their commitment to sustainable practices.

Key features that set the standards apart

What sets the ESRS apart are its key features, including the principle of double materiality, which requires companies to report on sustainability matters that have a financial impact or significant external consequences (impact materiality). This dual perspective ensures that reporting captures the full spectrum of a company's sustainability performance.

Comprehensive reporting is another cornerstone, demanding disclosures on a wide array of topics from biodiversity to the circular economy. This level of detail extends to governance structures, ensuring companies clearly communicate how they manage sustainability and integrate it into their overall strategy.

The path ahead: a call to action for companies

The introduction of ESRS and CSRD is more than a regulatory update; it's a call to action for companies to rethink how they approach sustainability reporting. With requirements for detailed disclosures, value chain reporting, and potentially assurance of reported information, companies need to start preparing now. Adapting to these standards will not only comply with new regulations but also position companies as leaders in sustainability, ready to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.

As we look towards a future where sustainability is embedded in every aspect of corporate reporting, the ESRS and CSRD stand out as beacons of progress. By embracing these changes, companies can play a pivotal role in driving the economy towards a more sustainable, transparent, and accountable future.

Stay tuned for more for part two!

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