In recent years, companies have increasingly been publishing ESG reports and providing interested readers with insights into their strategies, objectives and measures. If one compares such reports, it is noticeable that there is no uniform procedure for preparing the report and there is often no information on the data basis and the standards applied.

Thus, some readers of such reports probably also ask themselves whether there are any regulations for this or whether the data have been checked in any way.

Status quo in recent years

In Austria, for example, only large corporations are currently required to publish a non-financial statement in the management report. The requirements for the content (regulated in the so-called NaDiVeG) are very general and include, in addition to a general description of business activities, the topics of the environment, social issues, employee concerns, respect for human rights and the fight against corruption. The most important non-financial performance indicators have to be reported. The Supervisory Board and the members of the Board of Management are responsible for reviewing this data; the auditor merely confirms the existence of the report. For the type of data determination and the scope of reporting, reference is made to various frameworks, such as the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), but there is no obligation to apply them.
 
Another type of report are the so-called environmental statements. These are prepared by companies that participate in the EU’s voluntary EMAS (Eco Management and Audit Scheme) system. These reports usually focus on the topic of environmental protection and are checked and verified by so-called environmental auditors according to specified procedures and contents.
 
Some companies also publish information on their greenhouse gas emissions, e.g., related to the product or the site. This data is often – though not always – verified by independent third parties. This can be recognized by the reader of this information by the fact that there is an “assurance statement” in the report in which the verifier confirms that the data has been determined in accordance with a standard (e.g., ISO 14064) as well as correctly.

Uniform EU regulation from 2024

The new EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will set new standards in the European Union from 2024. Not only will the scope of application be gradually extended from large corporations to small companies, but also.

  • the scope of the report is specified in more detail,
  • a uniform digital reporting format is introduced, and
  • an obligation to have the reports audited by external third parties.

Standards for the type of data to be reported and the collection are also to be defined by the EU in the course of 2023.

Conclusion

Not all sustainability reports are the same – source information and audit status are currently not easy to identify, there is a lack of uniform regulations – there are therefore major qualitative differences in terms of professionalism and orientation. More transparency can be expected in the future.
 
GREG’s experts will be happy to support you in designing and optimising your sustainability report and the associated data management.

Sabine Bradac

Sabine Bradac

Risk Consultant GrECo Risk Engineering

T +43 50404 896

Johannes Vogl

General Manager GrECo Risk Engineering

T +43 664 883 805 04

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