We advoate an applicable SME standard that values the systems and processes in place in forward-looking companies interested in achieving valid sustainability management with impact. There is a national reporting standard established in two EU member countries, which meets these demands. One is The Sustainability Code, which is currently updated to CSRD and ESRS accordingly. Developed by an initiative of investors and analysts with best practice sustainability reporters together in a multistakeholder process after the financial crisis 2008 and set up as project by the German Council for Sustainble Development (RNE) since 2012, it was designed to be established on EU level after a successful implementation period in Germany. After a decade of implementation, the German Sustainability Code is successfully established in the biggest market economy in the EU with nowadays 970 applying companies and organizations of all sizes and legal forms. The Code delivers experiences and answers to questions, that are currently discussed in a very risk-focused way in the EFRAG SR working structures.
We strongly advocate its adaptation at European level – as smart LSME ESRS, if used in the gross version of the Code including CSRD and ESRS fully and as potential VSME ESRS in the established minimum standard approach with the compy or explain approach. The Sustainability Code embodies the proportionality principle, ensuring companies to enter reporting from their respective status quo, describing the individual development process in establishing a sustainability management and reporting. To date, companies adjust the well structured standard with obligatory qualitative and quanitative reporting items with help of the comply or explain principle and allows to add regulatory supplements, if it is needed or desired. The database solution provides practical help for preparation and feedback at no costs. It is as such the perfect plugin solution as national collection hub for the European Single Access Point (ESAP). It could as such help to raise acceptance for the CSRD and accelerate speed for the ESAP implementation.
Consideration of the Sustainability Code in the context of current EU sustainability regulatory measures and the SDGs as an international reference framework - Prof. Dr. Kerstin Lopatta, Universität Hamburg
Analysis of current Sustainability Code users based upon data published on the open Sustainability Code database – Yvonne Zwick, chairwoman of B.A.U.M. e.V, German Network for Sustainable Business