Conclusions

The analysis of the gathered data points consistently to one overarching conclusion. The vast majority of companies acknowledge in their reports the importance of environmental and social issues. However, more often than not this information is not clear in terms of concrete issues, targets and principal risks. The general information that most companies provide does not allow investors and other actors to understand companies’ impacts and by extension their development, performance and position. The results of our research suggest the need for the standardisation of disclosure and clarifications on when companies ought to report such information with respect to several key issues:

With respect to climate change, in line with the TCFD Recommendations, the legislation should clarify the requirements for the disclosure of:

  • long-term transition plans to a zero-carbon economy and
  • the economic implications of various scenarios for the company.

For other environmental issues, it is worth specifying which concrete information is material. This can include:

  • specific risks associated with pollution;
  • pollution generated by transportation, which is is rarely considered, despite being a material issue from the perspective of society;
  • water consumption and risks in water scarce and borderline areas;
  • adverse impacts on land use;
  • identification of any concrete biodiversity risks and impacts, and their management.

To support substantial positive change regarding human rights, legislation should clarify that companies:

  • need to assess the impact of their operations and value chain on other people, rather than looking at risks to business;
  • should explain in their disclosure how they prioritise their salient human rights issues for action, by determining the severity and likelihood of impact;
  • disclose how they are managing these specific issues, including concrete risks and incidents, according to the key components of the due diligence process outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  • describe their high-risk supply chains and the results, consequences and limitations of audits.

In the anti-corruption area, the legislation could specify that companies should disclose:

  • the main elements of the anti-corruption programme
  • its applicability and application to third parties, and
  • the public positions they lobby for in order to ensure accountability to investors and stakeholders.

In turn, these specifications would enhance companies’ accountability and make enforcement possible. Further changes that would improve the implementation of the NFR Directive and that ought to be considered include:

  • stronger monitoring by national governments;
  • publishing a list of companies that are covered under the legislation and their reports to enable third party monitoring;
  • providing options to civil society to initiate enforcement;
  • clarifying liability for non-compliance in national transpositions;
  • coordination with national legislations such as the French duty of vigilance law.

The main results are summarised in this website. You may also download the 2018 Research Report PDF where you will find all the results and conclusions from the initial research in a detailed briefing.