As its regulations gradually enter the legal framework, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will vastly change how companies collect data, prepare reports and disclose information. The Directive will likely play a part in a sweeping transition in the EU and eventually beyond. Aside from the CSRD, many reporting standards and frameworks exist worldwide that aim to promote transparency in the corporate world. This article will examine some essential reporting standards, bodies, and organisations to see how they compare and fit with the EU’s CSRD.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent organisation that produces sustainability reporting standards. Its standards are designed to be universally applicable for firms of all sizes to disclose their ESG-related impacts. They are used by more than 10,000 organisations in over 100 countries, making them the most widely used sustainability reporting standards globally.
Much like the CSRD, GRI standards offer firms a specific and wide-reaching set of disclosures, allowing firms to choose disclosures that are relevant to their business activities. Unlike the CSRD, however, the GRI does not involve double materiality, which refers to the consideration of two types of materiality in ESG assessments: implications for the company’s financial value, as well as the company’s social and environmental impact.
A critical difference between the GRI and CSRD is that GRI standards are voluntary, whereas the CSRD will be mandatory. GRI standards can help businesses better understand their activities and how to build better strategies going forward. They will also carry reputational benefits as firms evidence their positive ESG impacts.
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) produces industry-specific reporting standards tailored to 77 different industries. When possible, they consider other reporting standards and metrics in formulating their own to achieve better comparability and standardisation. This industry-specific perspective that the SASB provides means it is compatible with other reporting standards, such as the GRI.
The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has created a framework of principles aimed at helping consumers better understand ESG reporting and how reporting companies assess whether targets are met. The TCFD was created by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and recommends what types of information companies should disclose. The TCFD, as implied in the name, is only concerned with the climate-related impacts that companies make and does not cover social and governance aspects.
The UN’s Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) offers investors a framework for better ESG considerations, in the form of six principles. There is also advice on implementing the principles on the UN PRI website. Where the CSRD aims to mandate and standardise reporting within the EU, the PRI operates globally and is aimed at investors such as asset owners and investment managers, encouraging them to consider ESG factors within their decision-making and investments.
An overview of the mentioned standards:
|Scope||Firms operating |
in the EU
|Materiality||Double Materiality||Impact Materiality||Financial Materiality||Financial Materiality||Financial Materiality|
As this article shows, the CSRD is adding to a long list of measures, principles and standards that are used by companies and investors all over the world to assess and disclose ESG impacts. However, it still represents a significant shift in the reporting game. Evidently, the key difference between the CSRD and other corporate sustainability standards is the transition to mandatory reporting. Whereas most standards leave it up to firms to decide whether they will disclose data, the CSRD will enshrine reporting commitments in law for EU firms and eventually non-EU firms that operate within the union.
It will likely change the world of reporting as it represents the first time that an EU-wide mechanism has been introduced to ensure the reliability and accuracy of data. This should pressure companies to rethink their ESG strategies and orient them towards considering genuine material impact in their Environmental, Social and Governance policies. Given the differences in scope and application between the CSRD and other outlined standards, they can be used in harmony as they apply to different entities and serve different purposes, despite having the same overarching end goals.