The corporate sustainability and responsibility world has gained significant attention in recent years, with increasing demands for transparency and accountability. In this context, the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) represents a major milestone in promoting sustainability practices within organisations. This blog aims to provide an overview of the CSRD reporting requirements specifically for Irish organisations, highlighting key aspects and considerations.
The CSRD, which is set to replace and build upon the existing Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), introduces a comprehensive framework for sustainability reporting in the European Union. It expands the scope of reporting to ensure that organisations provide more detailed and consistent information regarding their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance. The CSRD applies to large Public-Interest Entities (PIEs), including listed companies, banks, and insurance companies.
Key Reporting Obligations
- Scope and Materiality: Organisations must report on sustainability matters that are relevant and significant to their business operations, considering both financial and non-financial impacts. Materiality assessments help identify ESG topics that are important to stakeholders and have a substantial influence on business performance.
- Sustainability Information: The CSRD requires organisations to report on a range of sustainability topics, including climate change, environmental impact, social issues, human rights, diversity, and anti-corruption measures. The reporting should encompass both qualitative and quantitative information, offering a comprehensive view of the organisation’s sustainability performance.
- Entity-Specific Disclosures: Irish organisations must disclose specific information related to their business model, policies, due diligence processes, and risk management procedures concerning sustainability matters. This includes information on how organisations integrate sustainability into their strategy and decision-making processes.
- Assurance and Verification: The CSRD places emphasis on the reliability and credibility of reported information. To enhance confidence in the disclosed data, organisations may choose to obtain assurance from independent third parties. External assurance provides stakeholders with an increased level of trust in the reported information.
- Digital Reporting: The CSRD aims to promote accessibility and comparability of sustainability information by leveraging digitalisation. Organisations are required to publish their sustainability reports in a machine-readable electronic format, allowing for easier analysis and benchmarking.
Preparing for CSRD Reporting
To comply with the CSRD requirements effectively, Irish organisations should consider the following steps:
- Establish Governance: Ensure that there is clear ownership and accountability for sustainability reporting within the organisation. Establish a dedicated team or committee responsible for overseeing the reporting process and ensuring compliance with the CSRD.
- Identify Material Topics: Conduct a thorough materiality assessment to identify the most significant sustainability topics for the organisation. Engage with stakeholders, including employees, investors, customers, and communities, to understand their expectations and concerns regarding sustainability.
- Data Collection and Management: Implement robust data collection processes to gather relevant information across the organisation. Develop systems to manage and verify sustainability data, ensuring its accuracy, completeness, and consistency.
- Reporting Framework Selection: Choose a recognised reporting framework, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), to guide the reporting process. Aligning with established frameworks enhances comparability and enables benchmarking against industry peers.
- Enhance Transparency: Consider disclosing not only the positive aspects of sustainability performance but also the challenges and areas for improvement. Transparent reporting builds trust with stakeholders and demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to continuous improvement.
The application of the CSRD reporting requirements will take place in four stages:
- Reporting in 2025 on the financial year 2024 for companies already subject to the NFRD; • reporting in 2026 on the financial year 2025 for large companies that are not currently subject to the NFRD;
- Reporting in 2027 on the financial year 2026 for listed SMEs (except micro undertakings), small and non-complex credit institutions and captive insurance undertakings;
- Reporting in 2029 on the financial year 2028 for third-country undertakings with net turnover above 150 million in the EU if they have at least one subsidiary or branch in the EU exceeding certain thresholds.
Impact of the CSRD
The new rules will make more businesses accountable for their impact on society and will guide them towards an economy that benefits people and the environment. Data about the environmental and societal footprint would be publicly available to anyone interested in this footprint. At the same time, the new extended requirements are tailored to various company sizes and provides them with sufficient transition period to get ready for the new requirements.
The CSRD marks a significant step towards harmonised sustainability reporting across the European Union, aiming to provide stakeholders with reliable and comparable information on organisations.
Irish organisations should proactively embrace these reporting requirements, recognising the value of sustainability in achieving long-term success. By adhering to the CSRD and adopting sustainable practices, Irish organisations can enhance their reputation, attract investment, and contribute to a more sustainable future for Ireland and the wider global community.