Our company already publishes sustainability reports. What's the value added in declaring conformity towards the German Sustainability Code?

Experience shows, that sustainability reports enjoy smaller readership than many hope. Overall, the processed information to potential users in the capital market does not seem to be suitable, especially since comparability and quantification is often missing. Therefore, the German Council for Sustainable Development together with representatives of the capital market has selected  performance indicators from established reporting standards and described criteria that present in a short and clear manner the essential information on the sustainability performance of a company.

What has changed within the Sustainability Code?

The structuring of the texts is new. The quantifiable performance indicators have been separated from the criteria and placed further down in The Sustainability Code. This makes them easier and faster to compare. The foreword, which, based on practical experience, politically classifies the Council initiative, has undergone a fundamental revision: with voluntary implementation in Germany as well as a description of how it ties in to the European context, and in terms of requirements of national regulations in other countries. The glossary has been extended to contain terminology that makes for a more reliable application of the Code. Help has been included on the technical drafting of the declaration of conformity and on the compatibility version to cover the eventuality of references being made to other reporting formats.

The number of performance indicators has risen from 27 G3.1 to 28 G4 indicators, whilst the EFFAS indicators have decreased from 19 to 16.

RNE working document: Comparison of Criteria GSC 2011 and GSC Version 2014 (PDF, 87 KB)

There are already Global Compact, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, ISO 26.000 – what's the use of a Sustainability Code?

Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines and ISO 26.000 are important initiatives on which the Sustainability Code is setup. The Code can be a useful instrument to report on measures taken to implement these principles into the business case. A systematic comparison of the criterion of the Code with the principles of Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines and ISO 26.000 can be found here (XLS, 59 KB).

We publish a GRI A+ / EFFAS Level III report, which is acknowledged as compliance with the Code. So I do not need to publish a declaration of conformity, right?

Nevertheless, a declaration of conformity is meaningful for better usability and comparability of the information. Operating experience show, that companies with a sustainability report on application levels GRI B and even C meet the requirements of the Sustainability Code.

A reporting obligation at European level is now in the offing - who is affected and what role will the Sustainability Code play here?

The EU Directive on disclosure of non-financial information directly affects capital-market companies with more than 500 employees and/or a balance sheet total of €20 million and/or a net turnover of over €40 million. It focuses on public-interest entities, that are listed on the stock exchange or issue bonds, as well as financial service providers such as banks and insurance companies. As of 2017, they will be required to report annually on their performance in regards to the environment, society, employees, human rights, anti-corruption and diversity. This can be achieved by including it in the management report as part of the annual report or by compiling a separate sustainability report. The EU Commission has mentioned the Sustainability Code as means to fulfil the reporting requirement:

Non-financial reporting in the EU: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/accounting/non-financial_reporting/index_en.htm

Press release April 15th, 2014: „Improving corporate governance: Europe’s largest companies will have to be more transparent about how they operate“: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-14-124_en.htm

Disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies and groups - Frequently asked questions: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-301_en.htm

Is the declaration of conformity checked for correctness by the Council? Is there a certificate or similar?

After sending the declaration of conformity to the office there is a preliminary examination before publication. This is mainly to check whether the format has been followed and, if necessary, content-related notes are given. There is no certification. If companies want to increase the credibility of the declaration of conformity for example for the capital market, the Council recommends to do this through a limited assurance of a third party (e.g. auditors, NGOs).

Companies get a signet to communicate their support for the Sustainability Code given with a declaration of conformity.

Where are declarations of conformity to the Sustainability Code published along this website?

We ask you to present your declaration of conformity also on your company website. Some supporting partners of the Sustainability Code have integrated the database on their websites and reach more target groups. http://database.globalreporting.org