The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is increasingly on the agenda and attracts the attention of countless organisations. How can companies meet the strict requirements while increasing their impact? How do initiatives linked to a circular economy contribute to the overall picture? Epact acts as an expert guide guiding companies on their sustainability journey. We have developed custom roadmaps for our clients so that they can not only meet the CSRD requirements, but also use the CSRD as a powerful tool to increase their positive impact.
Our philosophy is that an organization should be able to implement the plan itself, while Empact provides support when needed. Within the Empact ecosystem there are not only consultants, but also scientists and, of course, the assurance providers who contribute ideas and tests during the implementation of the step-by-step plan.
Step 1. Analysis and zero measurement
In the first phase, we lay a solid foundation by means of a thorough baseline measurement and analysis. We dive deep into the current situation and map all aspects, including existing policies, implementation, processes, activities and governance. In addition, we perform a double materiality analysis, in collaboration with stakeholders, to get a complete picture. We compare the results of these analyzes with the requirements arising from the CSRD. Based on this comparison, we jointly identify the GAP: the difference between the current situation and the stated requirements and ambitions. In close consultation, we then determine the necessary steps to prepare for the second phase.
2 ESG/CSRD strategy
Based on the findings from phase 1, we determine the CSR vision and ambitions. This vision must be embraced by the Management Board and the Supervisory Board. Based on this vision, we then define the main objectives. In addition, we determine the responsibilities within the organization. All this together forms the ESG strategy. In doing so, we let go of the CSRD as a guideline and set the vision and goals for the E, S and G. In this way, we strive for tangible and actual changes that go beyond mere compliance with regulations. We want to have a positive impact on the environment, society and the way we run our organisations. Together we are committed to sustainable growth and change that make a lasting difference.
3. Execute or Implement
After the strategy, main objectives, governance and action plan have been determined, it is time to make concrete plans for each sub-area. We put together working groups and translate the strategic goals into operational actions. In this phase it is essential to have an eye for quick wins and the realization of iconic projects. With this we optimize the experience of success and increase the visibility of our efforts. This is especially important to increase support and energy within the organization as much as possible. Working with the CSRD is a continuous process, which is why phases 3, 4 and 5 will partly overlap.
In 2026, most organizations will report on their ESG performance based on the CSRD. While implementation may already be underway, this initial phase provides a valuable opportunity to look ahead to 2026 while encouraging the organization to continuously work on their ESG performance. In addition, there is the possibility to request a “pre-assurance” from the assurance provider. This gives an organization the certainty that the assurance provider is involved in the choices that are made. The assurance provider may provide additional insights, particularly regarding the process and evidence. In this way, an organization lays a solid foundation for future reporting obligations. It also creates an internal incentive to continuously work for improvement and success in ESG performance
The final critical phase of the CSRD implementation process focuses on integration of the CSRD. It is essential to distinguish between the implementation of the CSRD and its full integration within the organization. It is important that internal stakeholders are aware that the ultimate responsibility for CSRD and ESG performance rests with the CEO or CFO. Although the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) are still subject to change, we understand that some organizations want to wait until the ESRS are finalized. However, it is important to realize that this decision entails risks, especially if the quality of current sustainability reporting is not optimal. The first and second phase of the implementation process can have a longer lead time. The activation of the internal organization and the involvement of finance and management will increase significantly.
It is important to understand that the CSRD is a means to an end, not the other way around. A successful implementation of the CSRD not only results in compliance and costs, but also adds value to the business. This requires a step-by-step strategic approach, realizing real impact. If you want to know more about CSRD, ESG performance or the CSRD roadmap, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
* An expanded version of this article is available third part of the Practice Note that we developed for SDU. We also provide tips & tricks and templates are available. For more information, see: https://www.sdu.nl/jes/kennisbank