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Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting - India's ESG framework

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) started an effort known as the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) framework which was introduced in 2021 and is referred to as BRSR ESG disclosures. The mandatory ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting among top 1000 listed firms in India is promoted under the BRSR framework.

Listed firms are expected to disclose their ESG-related information in their annual reports or on their websites in accordance with the BRSR framework. This material ought to include a range of topics, including corporate governance, social responsibility, and environmental effect. These disclosures are meant to increase stakeholder participation, openness, and accountability.

ESG disclosures in BRSR are important for a number of reasons. They first help stakeholders and investors evaluate a company's sustainability performance and make wise choices. Second, they push businesses to adopt environmentally friendly practises and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Finally, they encourage ethical business practises and support efforts to address social and environmental issues.

BRSR (Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting) does not include specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) related to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Instead, BRSR provides a set of principles and guidance on how companies can report on their sustainability performance in a transparent and credible manner.

The 9 principles mentioned in BRSR reporting is –

  1. Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity, and in a manner that is Ethical, Transparent and Accountable.

  2. Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe

  3. Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains

  4. Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to all its stakeholders

  5. Businesses should respect and promote human rights

  6. Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment.

  7. Businesses, when engaging in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a manner that is responsible and transparent

  8. Businesses should promote inclusive growth and equitable development

  9. Businesses should engage with and provide value to their consumers in a responsible manner

These principles can be organized into four categories: Governance, Environmental, Social, and Economic. Within each category, BRSR provides a set of disclosures that companies can use to report on their sustainability performance.

Some examples of disclosures that companies can use within the BRSR framework include:

Governance: Disclosures on board composition, structure, and independence; policies on anti-corruption, bribery, and fraud; and mechanisms for stakeholder engagement and grievance redressal.

Environmental: Disclosures on energy consumption and efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, and water management.

Social: Disclosures on labor practices, including employment policies and practices, working conditions, and diversity and inclusion; community engagement and development initiatives; and human rights due diligence.

Economic: Disclosures on economic performance, including revenue, profits, and investments; taxes paid and incentives received; and R&D expenditure.

While BRSR does not provide specific KPIs related to the SDGs, companies can use the framework to report on their sustainability performance in a way that is relevant to the SDGs and demonstrates their contributions to achieving these goals.

Under the BRSR framework, businesses are expected to disclose a number of important ESG factors, such as energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water management, employee welfare, board diversity, and ethics and integrity. Additionally, companies must present a narrative on their ESG initiatives, results, and future improvement goals.

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