CSRD Directive - Constraint or opportunity?

Top NewsCorporate05/17/2024

Opinion column by Philippe Maillard

Managing Director of the Apave Group


CSRD: a term that is now part of the language of many European companies. We have all, at the very least, taken part in an event on the subject or, for those who are more advanced, initiated a process of reflection within our entities. Some people describe CSRD as a tsunami or a new wave of regulation, others as a magnificent opportunity.
others as a magnificent opportunity for transformation. What do we think?


The CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) sets new standards and obligations for non-financial reporting. The objectives of this directive are to harmonise sustainability reporting by companies at European level and to improve the availability and quality of published ESG data in order to encourage sustainable development by companies and identify those that are disciplined in this area.


CSRD is at the heart of the European Green Pact, better known as the Green Deal, whose objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, the first step towards carbon neutrality by 2050. Applicable from 1 January 2024, the CSRD will gradually oblige more than 50,000 companies in Europe, including 6,000 in France, to draw up non-financial reports on their CSR impact.

Let's face it: this is a huge challenge!

Philippe Maillard CEO of the Apave group
Philippe Maillard CEO of the Apave group

In the light of successive crises, whether social, geopolitical or health-related, companies are faced with complex situations to manage. In prioritising their risks and priorities, they do not always take sufficient account of the challenges associated with sustainable transitions, which are often perceived by the smallest structures as being more distant, consuming financial resources and less important, even if awareness of the importance of taking action is there.


How can I develop my business model or my supply chain to stay competitive? How can I invest sustainably? These are just some of the questions that are being asked, and they sometimes undermine the need for detailed sustainability reporting, as envisaged by the CSRD. Explaining this new regulatory constraint is therefore a key step in the successful implementation of this deadline.


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Let's also be clear: no one is questioning this objective.

That's the way the story goes. Over the years, everyone's awareness has become a reality.

There is no longer any debate: yes, we must act, and act collectively, because it is the sum of individual responses that will create a visible and effective collective impact.


In response to this major challenge, our Group has mobilised. First and foremost internally, because it's important to take action ourselves and to be proud of the skills that exist within our company. Apave has set up a CSR team, a Climate & Sustainability department to train and advise our customers, and a dedicated entity (CSR France) accredited to certify and verify sustainability reports. Our expertise is available to implement CSRD at Apave, but can also be mobilised to support our clients in their journey and their ambitions.


As you can see, Apave is fully aligned with the values of CSRD. We are convinced that it is heading in the right direction by putting trust back at the heart of ecosystems and supporting the necessary changes in times of transition. The CSRD will only create value if it is implemented with a pragmatic and operational approach, an approach that makes sense.

How do you give meaning?


We begin by giving meaning to the actions undertaken: Why is this action being taken? What purpose does it serve? What ambition does it fulfil? What are we trying to demonstrate?

It is also important to give meaning to the data reported. This is a key point. In the CSRD approach, non-financial data must be associated with a strategic and operational analysis that makes the link with each company's activities and business lines. Reporting figures in order to analyse only the mathematical consistency between them will not create any value. The relevance of the dual materiality analysis, the connectivity between the extra-financial and the financial, and the resilience of the business model are governance issues, and must contribute to the operational deployment of the chosen sustainability strategy.


This is one of the reasons why I wanted Apave to accelerate its support for companies on their journey towards sustainability and the application of CSRD. Our 10,000 engineers and technicians, together with our 300 consultants, are at their disposal to structure and implement their approaches and actions: experts in carbon, biodiversity, health and safety at work, industrial safety, cybersecurity, environmental regulations and impact studies... so many concrete building blocks that it is important to work on in order to then act with impact.

The CSRD is an opportunity to tackle the issues and risks in a pragmatic and, above all, operational way.

The stage we all have to manage: applying the CSRD in our entities without losing sight of the importance of not committing ourselves to an overly perfectionist application of a new regulation that would lose its meaning.... and its individual and collective usefulness.


At Apave, we accompany our clients right into their factories or sites to show and explain the way forward: it is this approach, coupled with our historic positioning as a trusted third party, that enables them to improve their performance; it is this support that will enable them to move from constraint to opportunity.

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