CSRD, ESRS, ESG reporting: why businesses must act now

The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) provides a clear roadmap for comprehensive ESG reporting, with enormous challenges for businesses. We illustrate how to overcome these challenges and why you should act now. 

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The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) are revolutionising sustainability reporting in companies by introducing obligatory, harmonised standards that cover a wider area of applications and are driving forward the integration of finance and non-finance data. These initiatives, which are among the leading ESG reporting standards, go far beyond the standard regulatory requirements and mark an important shift towards greater transparency and responsibility. However, this does mean more work and new processes for companies. In this article, we will show you everything you need to know in order to have a more efficient and CSRD/ESRS-compliant reporting and will tell you all about the role that new technologies and strategic partnerships play here. 

While the CSRD improves clarity and consistency when it comes to reporting, the ESRS provide a guideline that helps companies to precisely describe their sustainability initiatives. Not only are these developments incredibly important for stakeholders and investors, but they are also important for the companies themselves. They offer companies the opportunity to strategically anchor and effectively communicate their sustainability goals. Sustainability reporting will therefore become a key element of many companies’ strategies that will encourage not just compliance, but also innovation and long-term growth.

Big data analytics and AI for consistent and automated ESG reporting

In the future, consistent and automated ESG reporting (ESG: Environmental, Social and Governance) will become the norm, driven by increasingly stricter regulatory requirements and the growing awareness of companies with regards to their social and environmental responsibility. The greatest challenge companies are facing in this area is the processing, gap filling, and analysis of the extensive and varied data which comes from a wide range of different sources and is presented in many different formats. 

We are ready to face this challenge together with our partners and customers. We are simplifying and automating the ESG reporting process with our tailored approach and selecting the most suitable ESG reporting software solution. Using big data analytics and AI, data silos are broken down and large quantities of data are processed, gaps filled, quality controlled, and analysed efficiently. This means that reports will not only be more precise, they will also offer timely and relevant insights into the ESG performance of the company. 

ESG reporting software and carbon accounting tools help companies to precisely determine and manage their carbon footprint by collecting and analysing data from a range of different sources. Integrating this tool into company processes allows for efficient management of the organisational structure, compliance rules and data protection guidelines, which in turn makes ESG reporting easier and ensures compliance. 

“ESG reporting must become an integral part of any company’s strategy. The linking of ESG data with financial and operational KPIs will provide a comprehensive picture of the company’s performance.” 

Automation and consistency in ESG reporting is crucial and so are strategic tools that will help companies to improve their ESG compliance and design their business model in a future-oriented way. Thanks to our extensive expertise, we can show you how technological innovations and strategic thinking can be used together to revolutionise sustainability reporting. 

Sustainability Manager for AI-based carbon accounting in the cloud

Carbon accounting, a central component of ESG reporting, is decisive for sustainable corporate management and is becoming increasingly important within the context of the CSRD and ESRS. The systematic recording and analysis of climate gas emissions is essential when it comes to understanding and reducing the environmental impact of a company. This is not only important from an environmental point of view, but also for meeting the growing regulatory requirements and the expectations of customers, investors and other important stakeholders. 

A specific example of the application of these technologies is the use of Microsoft Sustainability Manager as a solution for complete carbon accounting. As part of our strategic partnership with Microsoft, we use Microsoft Sustainability Manager in our projects. The tool offers a comprehensive solution for carbon accounting as it collects and analyses data from a wide range of sources to put together a clear picture of the climate gas emissions of a company. Microsoft Sustainability Manager uses cloud technology and AI to record and manage emissions along the entire value chain. Companies can precisely calculate and analyse their climate emissions, compile CSRD/ESRS-compliant emission reports and implement optimisation measures to improve transparency for stakeholders as well as their ESG compliance and competitiveness. 

Strengthening ESG compliance and market positioning with a central data platform

ESRS is an obligatory standard and component of future company management reports. Tools like SAS© ESG Hub from our partner SAS Institute AG play a key role in this process as it offers comprehensive solutions for compliance. They facilitate the legally compliant, efficient management, analysis and reporting of your ESG data within the legally required deadlines. Tools like the SAS© ESG Hub can be seamlessly integrated into existing company systems and can support a wide range of data formats. In addition, you need to pay attention to scalability and adaptability in order to meet the changing requirements of your company and any future legal requirements. 

“ESG data platforms give companies a strategic advantage as they allow them to present their sustainability initiatives in a more transparent and credible way, thus strengthening their trust and market position.” 

The development of a tailored ESG data platform is a decisive step towards meeting the requirements of the CSRD and ESRS as it allows for the central, efficient management and analysis of ESG data and therefore improves the quality and consistency of your reports. Visual elements such as dashboards and interactive reports help to make data more accessible and understandable. Not only does this significantly improve decision-making and strategic planning, but it also makes it easier for companies to comply with regulations and offers them a strategic advantage. 

  • Data can be used strategically to analyse the environmental impacts of companies and identify potential measures to reduce their carbon footprints. 

  • Thanks to the integration of real-time data, companies are able to dynamically adapt their sustainability strategy and pursue their ESG goals more effectively. 

  • Sustainability investments can be evaluated on their success. The platform helps to make ESG risks and opportunities in the portfolio more transparent and helps companies to make well-founded decisions. 

The future of ESG compliance and sustainability reporting

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly crucial competitive factor, particularly in view of the growing legal requirements with regards to CSRD and ESRS. The complexity of this task requires a clear and structured approach and cannot be managed alone. Companies must act now and build a suitable data and partner ecosystem in order to be more competitive and ready to meet the constantly growing requirements. It is important to avoid common pitfalls, such as underestimating the amount of planning required or reacting to legal requirements too late. 

The ESG compliance and reporting landscape is progressively being shaped by advanced technologies and adherence to standards like the CSRD and ESRS. Companies need to integrate these aspects into their strategies and use the benefits of innovative, technical solutions. 

These trends show that the adjustment to the dynamic requirements in this area is not only a question of compliance, but also an opportunity for companies to strengthen their market position and make a positive contribution to environmental and social change. A central aspect of this is recognising that sustainability is a data-driven endeavour that requires a carefully thought-out IT architecture. With many years of experience in the areas of data and sustainability, here at Zühlke we will support you on your journey and work with you and our partners to create an ecosystem that will see you well equipped to meet the challenges of sustainability reporting and ESG compliance in the future. 

Would like to take your first steps towards the more strategic use of data when it comes to CSRD/ESRS, and beyond? Feel free to get in touch! 

Contact person for Switzerland

Dr. Francis Froborg

Lead Project Manager

Francis Froborg is Project Manager and since January 2023 at Zühlke. She has a versatile background in physicist (Ph.D.), and sustainability (MSc.) as well as project management (waterfall and agile, IT and no-IT projects), and systems engineering (non-IT projects). Her passion is supporting businesses in their sustainability journey including development of new business models and (re-)design of products considering Sustainable Development Goals.

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