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Navigating the Green Wave: A Guide to ESG Reporting in India


A Guide To ESG Reporting in India

In today's globalized world, responsible business practices go beyond just generating profit. Increasingly, investors, consumers, and stakeholders are demanding transparency and accountability on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. This is where ESG reporting comes into play, offering a framework for businesses to measure, track, and communicate their impact on the planet, people, and good governance.


India, with its rapidly growing economy and ambitious sustainability goals, is witnessing a surge in the adoption of ESG reporting. There are several initiatives are shaping the landscape, including:


Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR)

The flagship framework, BRSR, is mandated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for the top 1000 listed companies by market capitalization. Introduced in 2021, BRSR goes beyond the earlier BRR (Business Responsibility Report) by:

  • Expanding scope: Covering disclosures on climate change, water management, waste management, resource utilization, stakeholder engagement, and corporate social responsibility.

  • Enhancing rigor: Mandating quantitative disclosures, assurance by independent auditors, and linking ESG performance to financial statements.

  • Promoting comparability: Standardizing reporting formats and metrics across industries, facilitating easier assessment by investors and stakeholders.


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

This internationally recognized framework offers a comprehensive set of reporting standards applicable to any organization, regardless of size or industry. While not mandated in India, many companies voluntarily adopt GRI principles, particularly those seeking global sustainability recognition. GRI emphasizes:


  • Materiality: Focusing on the most impactful ESG issues for the organization and its stakeholders.

  • Stakeholder inclusivity: Engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to understand their concerns and priorities.

  • Comprehensiveness: Reporting on a broad spectrum of ESG issues, including economic, environmental, and social performance.


Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

Focused on industry-specific standards, SASB provides detailed disclosure guidance for different sectors. This enables investors and stakeholders to make informed comparisons between companies within the same industry. SASB's framework for India covers sectors like banking, construction, and mining.


International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)

As part of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS), ISSB aims to establish a global baseline for sustainability reporting. Its inaugural standards, IFRS S1 and S2, focus on climate-related risks and opportunities, offering additional reporting options for Indian companies seeking alignment with international standards.


Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

While not a reporting framework in itself, TCFD provides a recommended set of disclosures for companies to manage and report on climate-related risks and opportunities. TCFD's framework is gaining significant traction globally, and Indian companies are increasingly adopting its recommendations, particularly those within sectors vulnerable to climate change. TCFD emphasizes:

  • Governance: Assessing the board's oversight of climate-related risks and opportunities.

  • Strategy: Disclosing how climate change affects the company's business strategy and financial planning.

  • Risk Management: Identifying, assessing, and managing climate-related risks.

  • Metrics & Targets: Setting and disclosing measurable targets for managing climate-related impacts.


CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project

CDP is a global non-profit driving corporate transparency on environmental issues. While not mandatory in India, many companies participate voluntarily, particularly those seeking recognition for their environmental performance. CDP focuses on:

  • Climate Change: Disclosures on greenhouse gas emissions, climate risks and opportunities, and energy efficiency.

  • Water Security: Reporting on water usage, water stress risks, and water management practices.

  • Forests: Data on deforestation, supply chain risks, and forest conservation efforts.


Integrated Reporting

The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) framework encourages companies to move beyond separate financial and sustainability reports. Integrated reporting aims to:

  • Connect the Dots: Show how financial, environmental, and social factors are interconnected and impact the company's long-term value creation.

  • Strategic Focus: Encourage companies to consider sustainability as a core strategic driver, not just an add-on.

  • Enhanced Communication: Provide stakeholders with a holistic view of the company's performance and future direction.


The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB)

It focuses on sector-specific frameworks for climate-related financial disclosures. This aligns well with BRSR's emphasis on climate change and provides companies with detailed guidance on reporting climate risks and opportunities relevant to their industry. CDSB frameworks cover sectors like:

  • Financial Services: Disclosures on climate risks and opportunities in lending, insurance, and investment activities.

  • Energy, Utilities, and Materials: Reporting on climate risks and opportunities related to energy generation, transmission, and consumption.

  • Manufacturing: Guidance on climate-related risks and opportunities for manufacturers across various industries.


From Growth to Green: How ESG Reporting Benefits Indian Businesses

  • Improved Brand Reputation: Demonstrating commitment to ESG principles enhances brand image and attracts conscious consumers and investors.

  • Enhanced Financial Performance: Strong ESG practices often lead to cost savings, operational efficiencies, and improved risk management, ultimately boosting financial performance.

  • Compliance and Regulatory Advantage: Early adoption of ESG frameworks helps companies stay ahead of the curve and prepare for potential future regulations.


The ESG Reporting Revolution: Adapting to Stay Ahead of the Curve


  • Focus on Materiality: Identify and prioritize ESG issues most relevant to your business and stakeholders.

  • Data Governance and Transparency: Invest in robust data systems and ensure transparent communication of ESG information.

  • Stakeholder Engagement: Actively engage with stakeholders to understand their expectations and concerns regarding ESG.

  • Continuous Improvement: Set clear ESG goals and track progress regularly to demonstrate commitment to continuous improvement. 


Streamlining ESG Reporting with StepChange


The complexities of navigating diverse ESG frameworks and ensuring data accuracy can deter businesses from embracing impactful ESG reporting. Innovative platforms like StepChange.earth are streamlining and empowering the sustainability journey.


We provide a comprehensive solution that caters to every step of the ESG reporting process. The platform, built by climate scientists and backed by science-based tools, offers a one-stop shop for data management, analyzing and benchmarking, setting science-based netzero objectives, and comprehensively automating reporting 


We understand that ESG reporting isn't just a checkbox exercise; it's a crucial driver for positive change. With our technology and expertise, Indian businesses can move beyond compliance and unlock the true potential of ESG practices, transforming their operations, enhancing their brand, and contributing to a more sustainable future.


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