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The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD)
Blog...The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD)

The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD)

Legislation & Standards
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What is the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, or the CSDD, how is it different from other sustainability reporting directives within the European Union, and how can the CSDD help to promote sustainability across the globe?
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The European Commission is getting more and more serious about sustainability – having released a proposal for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, or the CSDD, early last year.

Joining the long list of different sustainability directives in the EU, the CSDD will ask companies operating both inside and outside of the European Union to demonstrate their responsibility and efforts to protect the environment, society, and their suppliers.

👉 What is the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, or the CSDD, how is it different from other sustainability reporting directives within the European Union, and how can the CSDD help to promote sustainability across the globe?

In this article, we'll explain hos the CSDD can help to build responsible business conduct, improve relationships between business partners, and help both EU companies and non EU companies better their own operations.

What is the CSDD?

The CSDD, or the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, is a new directive reporting requirement that will strive to instill more sustainable and responsible practices. The CSDD was drafted originally due to stakeholder calling for more improved rules regarding exercised diligence within company operations – hence the name the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.

The CSDD will provide mandatory due diligence obligations and requirements, specifically on how businesses impact human rights and the environment, with the main goal being to encourage more sustainable and responsible behavior across all business operations.

The CSDD is interconnected with other European parliament directives to improve value chains and encourage supervisory authorities to rectify the environmental impact of their franchising or licensing agreements in scope companies for EU member states – such as by coinciding with the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), the Corporate sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

👉 If your company operates within the European Union (EU), your company will be required to comply with the CSDD when the final agreement is made. In fact, member states and countries of the EU will be asked to integrate the CSDD into their national legislation – but this doesn’t make the CSDD a unique facet to countries in Europe. The CSDD can serve as a viable guideline for any business in any country trying to be more sustainable.

Here's a table breaking down the difference between these different EU corporate sustainability policies

Differences between environmental due diligence obligations:

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Which companies will the CSDD affect?

Currently, the CSDD is going to affect the following companies:

Companies incorporated within the European Union who have: 

  • An average of 500 or more employees, with a net turnover greater than €150 million in the last fiscal year
  • An average of 250 or more employees, with a net turnover greater than €40 million in the last fiscal year – with at least 50% of this revenue coming from a high-impact sector. Examples of these industries could include agriculture, textile, forestry, or fishing. 

Companies that aren’t incorporated within the European Union who have:  

  • €150 million net turnover coming from within the EU within the last fiscal year 
  • Over €40 million net turnover, but below €150 million, coming from within the EU – given that at least 50% of the net worldwide turnover was created from at least one high-impact sector. 

💡 Therefore, it is important to note that U.S. companies and other multinational enterprises operating within the EU with branches making more than this designated amount will still be subject to the CSDD and its due diligence process – even if the national law is based under the EU's corporate sustainability policies.

Companies or organizations that meet these requirements will be required to demonstrate human rights and their environmental efforts across their business practices. 

corporate sustainability due diligence
It is important to note that these requirements are subject to change as the review process for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD) begins. 

However, the penalties for companies that neglect to adhere to the CSDD are likely to remain the same.

👉 If companies fail to comply with the CSDD, penalties will be issued in addition to other negative repercussions. Companies will be subject to a fine and subsequent legal action that could ruin the reputation of their business, ultimately impacting future business success. Also, companies who fail to comply with the CSDD will be required to submit additional reports on their companies operations, environmental impacts, and other management systems – as civil liability may come into play for cases where being proactive and adhering to the CSDD could have prevented other damages.

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How will the CSDD affect U.K. companies?

The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD) will impact U.K. companies that operate within the European Union or have substantial business relationships with EU entities and other regulated financial undertakings.

Here are the key ways in which the CSDD will affect U.K. companies:

  • Scope and Applicability – Large U.K. companies with more than 500 employees and a net turnover exceeding 150 million euros in the EU will need to comply with the directive. In addition to this, high-impact industries such as agricultural and textile will be affected under appropriate measures.
  • Due Diligence Requirements – U.K. companies will need to implement rigorous due diligence processes to monitor, manage, and address adverse human rights.
  • Reporting Transparency – U.K. companies affected by the CSDD will be required to publicly report on their due diligence policies and measures. This will increase the need for transparency and comprehensive sustainability reporting, aligning with broader global trends toward enhanced ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) disclosures.
  • Legal and Financial Liabilities –The CSDD will serve as a civil liability for companies failing to comply with due diligence obligations, meaning that U.K. companies could face legal actions and financial penalties if found non-compliant.
  • Operational Adjustments – U.K. companies might need to adjust their supply chain management practices, management systems, and more to comply with the CSDD.
  • Competitive Advantage – The CSDD may benefit EU companies trying to break into the EU market, as demonstrating a commitment to ESG criteria can help to gain direct business partners and even indirect business partners via targeted and proportionate support.

CSDD for U.K. companies in a snapshot

  • Impacts large U.K. companies with substantial operations in the EU
  • Requires newfound supply chain due diligence on human rights and environmental impacts
  • Mandates on public reporting on due diligence activities
  • Subject to legal and financial liabilities for non-compliance
  • Changes to be made in supply chain management and compliance practices
  • Improved reputational and competitive benefits

Recommendations for U.K. Companies:

  • Evaluate Current Environmental and Social Impact – It would be wise to review existing due diligence processes and risk management systems via an assessment of how the CSDD will affect your company operations and supply chains.
  • Improve Due Diligence – U.K. companies can develop and implement a robust due diligence procedures that align with the directive’s requirements with Greenly's help.
  • Enhance Reporting – It is important to improve upon current transparency and public reporting on sustainability practices.
  • Engage Stakeholders – Remember to work closely with suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders to ensure compliance and encourage collaboration on sustainability initiatives.
  • Stay Informed – Keep up with the latest CSDD requirements in order to ensure timely compliance.
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How is the CSDD different from the CSRD?

The CSDD and CSRD are both reporting directives initially established within the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA). While both of the reporting directives are aimed to improve sustainability and transparency within businesses across the EU, they aren’t both exactly the same.

The CSRD, or the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, is a reporting framework aimed at encouraging companies to report their sustainability activities relevant to their company – whereas the CSDD is more concerned with implementing mandatory due diligence within companies, specifically garnered towards monitoring their impact towards their supply chains, the environment, and human rights. 

👉 Both the CSDD and the CSRD require companies to report various activities related to sustainability and improving transparency, but they approach this goal by demanding different information in each directive. However, both the CSRD and the CSDD make use of the United Nations Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD’s guidelines for multinational companies.

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What are the requirements of the CSDD?

Generally, the requirements for the CSDD will cover five main areas. These include the following:

Demonstrate Due Diligence 

Companies should demonstrate their due diligence by identifying and preventing risks – both with the environment and society.  and prevent environmental and human rights risks. Examples of this may include analyzing the impact of business operations on the company’s supply chain, the environment, or basic human rights.

Mitigate Risks 

Risk management is one of the keys to cultivating greater sustainability, making it a primary component for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD). Companies should make an effort to identify and address risks found whilst conducting due diligence. Examples of this could include creating new policies and methods to identify risks or engaging with suppliers to address issues proactively.

Increase Transparency & Publicly Report

Transparency is another one of the most pivotal elements to creating a more sustainable business, meaning companies required to adhere to the CSDD should seek to be more transparent regarding their due diligence processes and make their reports available to the public. This can be done by publishing an annual sustainability report or sharing information regarding their efforts to protect the environment and humanity on their company website.

Improve Internal Communication

Transparency and public reporting both have something in common: good communication within business operations. Companies required to comply with the CSDD should develop ways to facilitate better communication between employees and stakeholders so that the company can address discrepancies within business operations that may otherwise go unnoticed unless reported by internal workers witnessing these operations first hand. Some ways that companies could implement this are by setting up a hotline or email to report poor or inefficient business conduct or encouraging HR to develop a better system to address current and future concerns within the workplace.

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Monitoring & Protecting Third-Parties or Suppliers with Due Diligence

Some may wonder why or how CSDD would relate to third parties or suppliers involved with your company – but they do. This is because third parties and suppliers play a huge role in both external and internal risks. With the CSDD, companies will be required to conduct due diligence regarding their suppliers to further determine the potential risks correlated to environmental or human rights.  

Demonstrating due diligence under the CSDD could be done by: 

  • On-Site Visits: One of the best ways to monitor and analyze supplier operations and how business operations impact the environment or society is to schedule in person visits to where business operations take place. This could include ensuring that workers are treated fairly and that all safety regulations are put in place. 
  • Review Supplier Policies: Cultivating a sustainable supply chain is key to all companies seeking to become more sustainable, meaning it is essential to keep up-to-date on how supplier policies are being monitored, reviewed, and adjusted accordingly. 
  • Review Current Regulatory Obligations:  New environmental regulations are being released all of the time, so it is important for companies to conduct due diligence under the CSDD by making sure that each supplier associated with the business is complying with the necessary climate legislation. 
  • Oversee Internal Management: Monitoring internal management is essential both in terms of sustainability and profitability, as doing so can help to prevent environmental and human rights associated risks. This can include ensuring that safety policies and working conditions are up-to-date, and allowing employees to voice their concerns on a continuous basis to allow for consistent improvement.

Does the CSDD have potential to promote worldwide sustainability?

Reporting directives aimed at cultivating greater sustainability and transparency in the market such as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDD) hold a decent chance at helping to encourage improved worldwide sustainability practices. This is because sustainability regulations and reporting directives can provide the incentive necessary to make business make the changes needed to adhere to cultivate greater worldwide sustainability.

👉 Most companies will find it harder to implement the tactics necessary to achieve greater sustainability by themselves, but a reporting directive like the CSDD can make it compulsory and result in more sustainable practices becoming the norm.

Specifically, conducting due diligence can help to cultivate sustainability in ways that other reporting directives or methods may not. This is because implementing a due diligence framework like the CSDD causes companies to address their ESG risks within both their business operations and their supply chains. 

The CSDD could result in the following, if eventually implemented worldwide: 

  1. Greater transparency: This is because companies will be asked to report both their sustainability performance in addition to assessing risks, which will lead to accountability – resulting in overall greater transparency: one of the biggest keys to sustainability. 
  2. Identifying & Assessing Risks: Risk management is imperative for sustainability, and due diligence is a great way to help manage risks associated with the environment, human rights violations, and disruptions across a company’s supply chain. Identifying and managing risks can help to make a company’s supply chain more resilient – resulting in greater sustainability. 
  3. Engage Stakeholders: The CSDD could encourage stakeholders such as those residing in nearby communities, investors, and employees to share their input in how business operations impact the environment and society – all of which could result in the company making a newfound effort to improve upon their sustainability.
  4. Promoting Sustainable Alternatives: The CSDD has a good chance of persuading companies of the benefits of sustainability, as seeking to use energy efficient appliances or renewable energy could cut down business costs all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 
  5. Increased Investor Interest: Studies have shown that companies expressing their efforts towards greater sustainability, such as with a due diligence framework like the CSDD, can improve their chances at seeming attractive to investors. This means requiring sustainability reporting directives, such as from the CSDD, can improve longevity for businesses as well. 

Ultimately, the CSDD has a long way to go before it reaches every corner of the Earth – but it is important to remember that any environmental regulation or reporting directive will require the cooperation of everyone involved. The CSDD may be a requirement, but if stakeholders and companies don’t make an effort to comply – it may never live up to its full potential.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, or the CSDD, has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Understanding international and domestic sustainability standards can be hard to keep track of, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help. Book a demo with one of our specialists to learn more. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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