In response to growing investor demand for information concerning companies’ sustainability-related financial risks, the sustainability disclosure landscape has rapidly changed over the last decade.  In what marks one of the latest developments to the sustainability disclosure landscape, on 29 April 2022, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (“EFRAG“) – a private organisation that provides technical assistance to the European Commission – issued its initial draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards (“ESRS“) for public comment. The ESRS, which EFRAG were tasked with preparing by the European Commission as part of the proposed Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD“), set out proposed requirements for companies to report on sustainability-related impacts, opportunities and risks under the CSRD.

Continue Reading The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group issues draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards

On 23 February 2022, the European Commission published its much-anticipated draft corporate sustainability and due diligence directive (the “Draft Directive”).  The Draft Directive sets out a proposed EU standard for human rights and environmental due diligence (“HREDD”) which, importantly, would apply to any non-EU-based company and its subsidiaries  if those group companies have aggregate annual net turnover in the EU of:

  • more than EUR 150 million (Group 1); or
  • more than EUR 40 million with at least 50% of net worldwide turnover generated in a “high-risk” sector which includes textiles, clothing and footwear, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food & extractives (Group 2).

Notably, the HREDD applies even if a company and its subsidiaries do not have a physical presence in the EU, if the above net turnover threshold is met.

The Draft Directive requires both Group 1 and Group 2 companies to take appropriate measures to identify, and mitigate, actual and potential adverse human rights and environmental impacts arising from their own operations anywhere in the world (not just in the EU) and, where related to their value chains, from their “established business relationships”.

Colleagues from our offices throughout the world have prepared briefings which are specific to particular locations, giving insights into related matters in those jurisdictions.

Continue Reading Human Rights and the Environment – What non-EU-based companies need to know regarding the EU draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive

The European Commission recently published a series of documents in the context of the Green Deal initiative. One of these is a proposal for a directive on consumer empowerment. With this proposal, the Commission seeks to deliver on its promise to ensure consumers have access to reliable, comparable and verifiable information on products to allow

A centerpiece of the European Green Deal was officially unveiled last week. The Proposal for a Regulation establishing ecodesign requirements for sustainable products[1] (‘ESPR’) is an ambitious document, part of a series of European Commission proposals seeking to redefine business in line with the European Union’s vision for a more sustainable future, as part

In 2017, following multiple legislative proposals and lengthy negotiations, France became the first EU Member State to adopt a cross-sectoral law on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (the “French Law“). At the time the French Law was adopted, it was highly criticized, in part because France appeared to be going “out on a limb” and a broader international response was felt to be necessary.

This February, an important step towards an EU-wide Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence legal framework was taken with the Proposal of the EU Commission for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (the “EU Proposal“). This follows legislative developments in individual EU Member States mandating human rights and environment due diligence in supply chains – see our previous blog posts on national HREDD movements in Germany and the Netherlands, for example.

Continue Reading Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence: How the EU proposal Could Impact France’s Existing Due Diligence Law

The sustainable investing market has witnessed remarkable growth. At the same time, the field has been challenged by a lack of consistency in identifying what, exactly, makes an investment “sustainable”.  Sustainability taxonomies (or classification systems) have been developed by governments, international bodies and non-governmental organizations to help identify specific assets, activities or projects that meet defined thresholds and metrics that quantify sustainability.  Many of these taxonomies refer to or emulate the EU Taxonomy, widely regarded as the most developed system for sustainable finance investment classification and measurement.

Continue Reading ICMA Identifies Usability Challenges – and Recommends Action – for Implementing the EU Taxonomy

Disclosure of information on the ESG-related risks facing financial institutions is widely recognised as a vital tool to promoting market discipline.  It enables stakeholders to assess the risks presented to financial institutions by issues such as climate change, social and governance risks, whilst also allowing stakeholders to review the sustainable finance strategies of financial institutions.  In light of this, governments are increasingly introducing different mandatory ESG-related reporting requirements for financial institutions, such as TCFD-aligned reporting requirements (for further information on TCFD-aligned reporting requirements, please see our previous blog posts here and here).

Adding to the plethora of existing ESG-related reporting requirements, on 24 January 2022, the European Banking Authority (“EBA“) published its final draft implementing technical standards on Pillar 3 disclosures on ESG risks (the “Final Draft ITS“).  The Final Draft ITS sets out mandatory templates, tables and instructions that supplement the EBA’s ‘Pillar 3 package’ prudential reporting requirements (the “Reporting Requirements“), which certain EU-based financial institutions will be required to comply with under the Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 575/2013) (the “CRR“).

Continue Reading The European Banking Authority publishes new ESG reporting requirements

A company’s ability and commitment to include en­vironmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in its strategy becomes more and more important to investors, consumers, policy makers, civil socie­ty organizations and other stakeholders. There is a funda­mental societal shift towards sustainability and responsi­bility. Managers are held accountable for ESG compliance. While environmental and governance aspects have

On 6 December 2021, the Netherlands became the latest European government to announce plans to introduce mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) legislation at a national level, adding to a growing movement and proliferation of national HREDD laws. This puts the Netherlands in the company of the likes of France, Germany and Norway (which have enacted or adopted such laws) and Austria, Belgium and Switzerland, among others (which are progressing their own national HREDD laws).

This development comes despite further delay on the publication of HREDD legislation at an EU level (see our previous Blog Post). On 6 December 2021, the Dutch Foreign Trade and Development minister said that he was “very disappointed” at the European Commission’s further delay to introduce EU mandatory HREDD legislation and announced the Dutch Government’s plans to develop and introduce a national HREDD law instead.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights – The Netherlands to Introduce Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence Legislation

The European Commission has indefinitely postponed its much-anticipated directive on human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) – more than 150 days after it was first expected to be published. While the reason for the delay is unclear, 47 civil society organisations have penned an open letter seeking “full transparency on the reasons for the delay and on the decision-making process going forwards.”

Despite this setback, national HREDD legislation continues afoot: laws have been adopted or are in force in France, Germany and Norway, while proposed national legislation is being progressed in a number of other European countries. Most recently, in December 2021, the Netherlands announced its intent to introduce its own national HREDD law in view of the further delay of the proposed EU law.

Legislative developments aside, investors, civil society and other stakeholders are scrutinising how companies identify and mitigate human rights impacts in their operations and supply chains more closely than ever.

And so the message is clear: companies still need to take steps to develop and reinforce their human rights due diligence programmes, both in anticipation of further mandatory HREDD laws and to respond to stakeholder expectations and demands.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights – EU’s Proposed Mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence Law Faces Further Delay