Industry webinar explores key features of the CSRD and ESRS

On January 24, 2024, the INC attended a webinar on EU corporate sustainability reporting regulations organized by the Agri-Food Chain Sustainability Roundtable, a group of European agri-food industry associations established in March 2022 to exchange information on sustainability-related legislation.

The purpose of the meeting was to help participants navigate the “jungle” of EU sustainability reporting regulations, in particular the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).

The presentations provided the perspective of a bank with a large agribusiness clientele (Rabobank), a sugar cooperative that has experience with sustainability reporting (Tereos) and the entity that advises the EU on sustainability reporting standards (European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, EFRAG).

Points of interest included a timeline of the progressive phase-in of requirements: reporting will be mandatory in the 2024 reporting year for companies required to report under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), in 2025 for other large entities, in 2026 for listed SMEs (with an opt-out option until 2028), and in 2028 for non-EU companies with branches or subsidiaries in the EU.

Presenters noted that sector-agnostic standards have already been adopted and that sector-specific standards are currently being developed. Standards for agriculture are expected to be published in 2025/2026. Until then, companies are required to report matters that are material to them, even if not covered by sector-agnostic standards, on an entity-specific basis. Listed SME (LSME) standards will be issued as a delegated act and will be effective as of January 1, 2026. Voluntary SME (VSME) standards will be issued as guidance.

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