Overview of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) represents a major evolution in corporate reporting within the European Union.

It replaces the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) and expands its reach from approximately 11,000 to 50,000 companies. The directive aims to standardize and enhance the transparency of sustainability information that businesses provide, covering both the financial impacts of a company’s activities and their broader environmental and social implications.

Introduction to CSRD

The CSRD was introduced by the European Commission to establish a comprehensive framework that enhances sustainability reporting standards for EU companies. It aims to promote transparent, consistent, and comparable reporting practices, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions based on detailed environmental, social, and governance (ESG) information.

Who is Affected by CSRD?

Listed Companies: All companies listed on stock exchanges are subject to the CSRD requirements.

Large Companies: Companies meeting at least two of the following criteria:

  • Revenue: Annual net revenue exceeds EUR 40 million.
  • Employees: Average number of employees during the financial year is more than 250.
  • Balance Sheet: Total balance sheet exceeds EUR 20 million.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs):

  • SMEs are included if they are listed on EU-regulated markets.
  • Specific conditions apply, tailoring the directive’s requirements to the scale and complexity of these smaller entities.
 Graph: Who is Affected by CSRD?

 

These criteria ensure that a broad spectrum of enterprises, from multinational giants to smaller, market-listed companies, are integrated into the CSRD’s scope, enhancing the directive’s impact on improving transparency and sustainability reporting across the EU’s market landscape.

Goals and Scope of the CSRD

The directive is crucial in promoting transparency and accountability by mandating companies to disclose comprehensive information on their sustainability practices. This includes current efforts and future strategies and targets. The clear reporting requirements hold companies to high standards and improve sustainability knowledge and practices among investors and stakeholders.

Double Materiality Assessment

The double materiality assessment is a pivotal component of CSRD reporting that profoundly influences the scope of reporting. This assessment is more complex than traditional approaches like those utilized by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) due to its requirement for a dual-focused analysis.

 

It consists of:

Impact Materiality (“Inside-Out” Perspective):

Considers the impact (actual or potential, positive and negative, over short-, medium-, and long-term horizons) that the company has on sustainability matters. These impacts include those caused or contributed to by the company’s operations, products, or services through its business relationships. The materiality of these impacts is assessed based on their severity (scale, scope, and irremediable nature) and likelihood.

 

Financial Materiality (“Outside-In” Perspective): Focuses on how sustainability matters affect the company. This includes impacts on current or future cash flows, development, performance, position, cost of capital, or access to finance. The scope of financial materiality for sustainability reporting is broader than that used in determining materiality for financial statements. It includes risks related to value creation that may not meet the financial accounting definition of assets/liabilities but still contribute to the generation of cash flows or business development. The materiality of these risks is evaluated based on the likelihood of occurrence and the magnitude of their potential financial effects.

 

Graph: Double Materiality Illustration

This dual approach of the double materiality assessment ensures a thorough evaluation of both how a company affects the environment and society and how environmental and social factors, in turn, could impact the company.

 

Graph: Double Materiality View

 


Reporting Strategy and Data Management

Companies are required to integrate sustainability into their reporting and business strategies, adapting to new sustainability standards and investing in technology for data management. This involves enhancing data collection methods and ensuring transparency in reporting to meet the standards set forth by the CSRD.

 

Preparing for CSRD Compliance: Strategic Steps

  1. Define Your ESG Strategy and Goals
  • Establish clear, realistic, and relevant objectives for your ESG efforts to guide all activities.
  • Identify who your internal and external stakeholders are and define their roles in your ESG strategy.
  • Determine the ESG information and metrics that are necessary for stakeholders.
  • Decide when and where you will share ESG information, aligning this with your corporate reporting schedule or external ESG reporting deadlines.
  • Outline the governance structure and processes for preparing and sharing ESG reports.
  1. Prepare Your ESG Framework
  • Establish a governance structure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Analyse stakeholder needs to determine the ESG information that is most relevant.
  • Collect preliminary internal ESG data, identify gaps, and outline methods to fill these gaps.
  1. Double Materiality
  • Implement a double materiality assessment to identify material ESG metrics and issues, considering both “outside-in” and “inside-out” perspectives.
  • Gather data via surveys, integrations, data uploads, and third-party databases.
  • Analyse the collected data to identify ESG risks and opportunities, such as supply chain vulnerabilities or potential cost savings from sustainable practices.
  1. Act on ESG Insights
  • Define actionable and measurable goals for identified ESG risks and opportunities.
  • Link ESG actions to business benefits, such as cost reductions or brand reputation enhancements.
  • Deploy the strategies and monitor their execution.
  • Regularly evaluate progress against goals and industry standards to continually improve.
  1. Communicate Your ESG Achievements
  • Ensure that your ESG reporting is open, clear, and transparent. Avoid exaggerations and be straightforward about both successes and areas for improvement.
  • Show concrete actions and future plans to achieve your ESG goals.
  • Adjust the depth and breadth of information to meet the specific needs of different stakeholder groups, ensuring clarity and relevance.
***This framework provides a structured approach to implementing CSRD, focusing on defining goals, preparing the necessary structures, measuring impacts, taking action based on insights, and communicating progress effectively. It ensures comprehensive coverage of all critical aspects required for effective ESG reporting and compliance with CSRD requirements.
 
Timeline and Compliance Phases

The CSRD will be phased in over several years. Larger companies already covered by the NFRD will start reporting from the fiscal year 2024. SMEs will begin reporting from 2026, and non-EU companies with significant EU operations will follow from 2028.

 

Graph: Summary of phased-in Disclosure Requirements for all reporting entities is outlined below:

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Graph: NFRD vs. CSRD