12.6 Responsible companies
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Sustainability reporting is currently taking place on a voluntary basis. There are a number of corresponding tools available for this purpose. Legal regulations exist in the context of accounting. The CSR Directive Implementation Act 2017, based on the so-called CSR Directive of the EU from 2014, created a statutory obligation to report non-financial information in Germany. In particular, listed companies with more than 500 employees must prepare a non-financial statement on environmental, labour and social issues, respect for human rights and combating corruption and bribery if other conditions are met (Section 289c HGB). Some 520 companies and organisations are affected. The existing voluntary frameworks can be used to implement this reporting obligation. Established reporting frameworks include the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative and the German Sustainability Code. There is a database for the latter: https://www.deutscher-nachhaltigkeitskodex.de/de-DE/Home/Database.
The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) is available to companies in the environmental sector. Established in 1995, it helps companies introduce and report on sustainable practices. Here, too, there is a database of registered companies and organisations, all of which are subject to environmental reporting obligations (www.emas-register.de). In consultation with the member states, the EU Commission revised the reporting requirements of the EMAS Regulation in early 2019.
There has been increasing focus on corporate responsibility when it comes to the sustainable design of supply and value chains in recent years. This topic is of great relevance due to German companies, given their often globally networked supply and value-added chains. The National CSR Forum of the Federal Government adopted the ‘Berlin CSR Consensus’ in 2018. The purpose of this policy paper is to give companies a cross-industry orientation on how to exercise entrepreneurial diligence in terms of social, environmental and human rights diligence. Further activities, in particular in the field of human rights due diligence (under the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights), are currently taking place.
Sub-goal 12.6 does not formulate quantitative targets. The National Reporting Platform (NRP) specifies the following as an indicator for 12.6: ‘Number of companies publishing sustainability reports’. The number of locations that are EMAS-registered is currently being recorded, because they must produce a certified environmental statement on the environmental aspects that concern them. Since the German National Sustainability Strategy has set the target of increasing the share of EMAS-registered sites and organisations to 5,000 by 2030 (indicator 12.2 in the German National Sustainability Strategy), this also applies to the number of environmental declarations. In addition to the environmental declarations, the number of declarations according to the German Sustainability Code is being recorded based on the availability of corresponding data in the DNK database.