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GRI Introduces 'CSRD Essentials' to Streamline EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting

Cover of "CSRD Essentials" guide by GRI on EU corporate sustainability reporting directive.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched the 'CSRD Essentials' series, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at simplifying the complex landscape of the EU's Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

This new resource provides businesses with the tools and guidance needed to navigate and comply with the enhanced sustainability reporting requirements.

By focusing on transparency and accountability, the CSRD Essentials series is set to play a crucial role in helping over 42,500 companies within the EU and beyond meet their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting obligations.

What is CSRD?

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a comprehensive EU regulation that mandates companies to disclose their environmental and social impacts. It significantly expands reporting requirements compared to its predecessor, the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD).

The CSRD applies to approximately 42,500 companies within the EU, including large companies and listed SMEs, and requires the audit (assurance) of the reported sustainability information.

This directive aims to enhance transparency, accountability, and the quality of sustainability reporting across the EU, aligning with the broader goals of the EU Green Deal to promote sustainable business practices and mitigate climate change.

Key Features of CSRD:

  • Expanded Scope: Covers more companies, including large companies and listed SMEs.

  • Double Materiality: Requires reporting on both how sustainability issues affect the company and how the company's activities impact society and the environment.

  • Assurance Requirement: Mandates third-party assurance of sustainability information.

  • Digital Reporting: Reports must be in a machine-readable format compliant with the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF).

The CSRD aims to create a standardized and transparent framework for sustainability reporting, contributing to the EU's commitment to a sustainable and climate-neutral economy.

Key Points from "CSRD Essentials"

The CSRD Essentials series, developed by GRI, provides a practical guide for understanding and implementing the CSRD.

Key features include:

  • Comprehensive Guide: Introduces a new series to simplify CSRD requirements.

  • Broad Reach: Targets over 42,500 EU companies and numerous global businesses.

  • Accessible Content: Includes 11 briefings on key CSRD aspects.

The series consists of 11 detailed briefings that cover key aspects of the CSRD, including:

  • Scope and Timing: Explains the expanded scope of the CSRD, including which companies are required to report and the timeline for implementation. It outlines the criteria for inclusion and the phased approach to compliance, ensuring businesses are well-prepared for each stage.

  • Reporting Format: Describes the integration of sustainability information within annual reports, combining financial and non-financial data. The guide emphasizes the importance of digital, machine-readable formats compliant with the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) to enhance comparability and transparency.

  • Legal Interconnections: Highlights the alignment of CSRD with other EU regulations such as the European Climate Law and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). It also mandates third-party assurance of reported information and underscores the importance of materiality assessments.

  • SMEs and Implementation: Focuses on the specific requirements for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), offering simplified standards to ease compliance. It discusses transition periods and practical steps for SMEs to gradually meet the CSRD standards.

  • Audit and Assurance: Outlines the requirements for third-party assurance of sustainability information, progressing from limited assurance to reasonable assurance by 2028. This ensures the accuracy and reliability of reported data.

  • Double Materiality: Introduces the concept of double materiality, which requires companies to report on how sustainability issues affect their financial performance and how their activities impact the environment and society. This dual focus ensures a comprehensive assessment of sustainability impacts.

  • Consolidation of Subsidiaries: Provides guidelines on how parent companies should consolidate sustainability information from their subsidiaries, ensuring consistency and completeness in reporting.

  • Global Impact and Compatibility: Discuss how the CSRD aligns with global sustainability standards, such as those developed by the GRI. This alignment facilitates a smoother transition for multinational companies and promotes global sustainability practices.

European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS)

The CSRD is supported by the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), which detail the specific disclosure requirements for companies. These standards cover various sustainability topics and ensure a standardized approach to reporting across the EU. Developed by the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), the ESRS is subject to regular updates to reflect evolving best practices and regulatory needs.

The Role of GRI in Sustainability Reporting

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides widely accepted standards for sustainability reporting. Many companies worldwide use GRI standards to disclose their ESG impacts. The GRI standards are compatible with the CSRD requirements, facilitating a smoother transition for companies already following GRI guidelines. The alignment between GRI and CSRD ensures that companies can leverage existing reporting frameworks to meet new regulatory demands.

Interoperability Between GRI and CSRD

GRI Standards are widely accepted and used by companies around the world to report their ESG impacts. The alignment between GRI and CSRD ensures a smoother transition for companies already following GRI guidelines.

Key points of interoperability include:

  • Consistency in Reporting: GRI and CSRD emphasize transparency and accountability in sustainability reporting. The GRI standards complement the CSRD by providing detailed guidelines on how to disclose ESG impacts effectively.

  • Materiality Assessments: Both frameworks require companies to conduct materiality assessments. While CSRD focuses on double materiality (impact on the company and society), GRI provides a robust framework for assessing these impacts, making it easier for companies to meet CSRD requirements.

  • Global Standards: The GRI standards are globally recognized, which facilitates the reporting process for multinational companies operating within the EU. This global acceptance supports the CSRD’s goal of promoting consistent and comparable sustainability information across different jurisdictions.

Impact on Third-Country Companies

The CSRD also extends to non-EU companies with significant operations in the EU. Companies generating more than EUR 150 million in the EU and having an EU branch or subsidiary must comply with CSRD reporting standards or equivalent frameworks. This ensures that all major market players adhere to the same rigorous standards, promoting global sustainability.

Timeline and Implementation

The CSRD will be implemented in phases:

  • 2025: Large public interest entities must comply.

  • 2029: Subsequent phases for other companies, allowing time to adapt to the new requirements and ensuring a smooth transition towards comprehensive sustainability reporting.

Notable Statements

Pascal Durand, MEP:

"With the ‘CSRD Essentials’ project, we established a close dialogue with stakeholders on the rationale behind the text and the best steps for implementation."

Jessica Fries, Chair of the GRI Supervisory Board:

"The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive represents a turning point in support of global sustainable business practices, a mission GRI has aligned with since our beginning."

Camille Sztejnhorn, ESG Impact Director at Lefebvre Sarrut:

"CSRD Essentials sets the bridge between rule-makers and implementers, ensuring access to law and inspiring lawmakers across Europe."

Peter Paul Van De Wijs, GRI Chief Policy Officer:

"This new resource reinforces GRI’s role to make sustainability reporting universal, accessible, and beneficial for all stakeholders."

The Path Forward for Corporate Sustainability Reporting

The CSRD, supported by the ESRS and aligned with GRI standards, marks a significant step forward in corporate sustainability reporting. By expanding the scope of reporting, introducing stringent assurance requirements, and promoting transparency, the CSRD aims to foster a more sustainable and accountable corporate environment in the EU and beyond.


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