Environment Laws

Sustainability Reporting under BRSR Framework of SEBI

calendar17 Apr, 2023
timeReading Time: 4 Minutes
Sustainability Reporting under BRSR Framework of SEBI

Sustainability reporting under BRSR enables businesses to disclose their performance and impact metrics regarding various Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) parameters. Its purpose is to encourage companies to be more transparent about their risks and opportunities. In 2021, only 20% of the 586 companies assessed in India released sustainability reports, as per a report by CRISIL[1]. However, 12 new companies have started making these disclosures for the first time, compared to the previous year. Investors and stakeholders tend to favor companies that demonstrate ESG ambitions, thus creating a need for businesses to transparently communicate their plans for achieving sustainability goals.

Process of Effective Sustainability Reporting

Step 1 – Identify Reporting Requirements: The top 1000 listed companies in India are required to report under the BRSR framework. Companies should identify the specific reporting requirements and deadlines for their reporting cycle.

Step 2 – Defining the Scope: Companies should define the scope of their reporting by identifying the ESG aspects of their business operations that are relevant to their stakeholders and business strategy.

Step 3 – Developing Reporting Strategy: Companies should develop a reporting strategy that outlines their approach to reporting on ESG issues, including selecting reporting frameworks, data collection and analysis, and stakeholder engagement.

Step 4 – Collect and Analyse Data: Companies should collect and analyse data on their ESG performance, including policies, practices, risks, opportunities, and impact. Data should be reported in a structured and consistent manner as a part of Sustainability Reporting under BRSR.

Step 5 – Identify Material ESG Issues: Companies should identify the ESG issues most relevant to their stakeholders and business strategy. Materiality should be based on the issue’s significance to the company and its stakeholders, the potential impact on the company’s operations and reputation, and the level of stakeholder concern.

Step 6 – Develop and Report on ESG Performance: Companies should develop and report on ESG performance, including progress on material ESG issues. Reporting should be clear, concise, and based on relevant metrics.

Step 7 – Seek Independent Assurance: Companies are encouraged to seek independent third-party assurance of their sustainability reporting to enhance credibility and transparency.

Step 8 – Publish the Report: Companies should publish their sustainability report on their website and the BRSR web-based platform to make it publicly available.

Step 9 – Monitor and Improve: Companies should monitor and improve their sustainability performance over time by setting targets and tracking progress, engaging stakeholders, and reviewing and improving their reporting processes.

Reporting Standards on Sustainability Reporting Under BRSR

To start with effective sustainability reporting, the first step is to decide how to report on sustainability measures. Frameworks provide broad guidelines without imposing specific requirements for reporting. At the same time, standards are more well-defined and expected to be strictly followed. Frameworks guide companies, while standards provide specific instructions on what to report.

There are five widely adopted reporting standards:

  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
  • Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
  • Value Reporting Foundation (VRF)
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The GRI standards include Universal Standards, Topic-specific Standards, and Sector Standards. The SASB approach categorises industries into sectors and provides specific sustainability accounting criteria based on the industry’s nuances. CDP motivates companies and governments to disclose their environmental impacts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The VRF offers a comprehensive suite of resources to help businesses and investors understand enterprise value by recognising six distinct but interrelated capitals. Lastly, the SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets with 230 agreed-upon indicators. Companies should understand the SDG framework and industry-specific standards to align with the SDGs.

Factors Affecting Sustainability Reporting under BRSR

The factors are as follows:

  1. Applicability: The BRSR framework applies to all listed companies, including those not required to prepare a separate sustainability report.
  2. Reporting Requirements: The BRSR requires companies to report on various sustainability parameters, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects. The report should cover areas such as energy conservation, water management, waste management, social responsibility, employee welfare, and governance practices.
  3. Disclosure Standards: The Sustainability Reporting under BRSR requires companies to use established standards and frameworks like GRI and SASB to report on their sustainability initiatives. The report should also describe how the company has applied these standards and frameworks.
  4. Reporting Format: The BRSR requires companies to report on their sustainability initiatives in a standalone report or as part of their annual report. The report should be published on the company’s website and submitted to the stock exchanges where the company is listed.
  5. Assurance: The BRSR requires companies to obtain independent assurance on their sustainability report from a qualified assurance provider. The assurance provider should be registered with the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB).
  6. Compliance: The BRSR framework is mandatory, and companies are required to comply with the reporting requirements. Non-compliance can result in penalties, including fines and a possible suspension of trading.

Requirement of Sustainability Reporting under BRSR

Aspect Description
Reporting Requirement Mandated for top 1000 listed companies in India by SEBI
Reporting Format Annual report, web-based platform or standalone report
Reporting Period Annual, covering the financial year
Scope Environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects of business operations
Disclosure Companies must disclose ESG policies, practices, risks, opportunities and impact.
Materiality Companies must identify and report on material ESG issues
Assurance Optional, but encouraged for independent third-party assurance
Reporting Framework Companies may use globally recognised frameworks, such as GRI or SASB, or the BRSR format.
Public Disclosure Companies must make their sustainability reports publicly available on their website and the BRSR web-based platform.

Conclusion

As per the Sustainability Reporting under BRSR, companies must report annually on their ESG policies, practices, risks, opportunities, and impact on identifying and reporting material ESG issues. The reporting may be in the form of an annual report, web-based platform, or standalone report. Companies are encouraged to seek independent third-party assurance of their sustainability reporting. Sustainability Reporting under BRSR provides stakeholders with information to assess companies’ sustainability practices and make informed decisions. It also enables companies to demonstrate their commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices, which can enhance their reputation and competitiveness in the long term.

Read Our Article: ESG Reporting: Is It Mandatory In India?

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