The Origin Green team in Bord Bia recently hosted an online webinar to introduce companies to a new Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) guidance document, and to outline how the Origin Green programme can support businesses looking to integrate ESG reporting into their business practices. We spoke with Bord Bia’s Martin Hofler, Sustainability Partnership and Development Manager, to understand more about the guidance document.

What is the difference between ESG and Sustainability?

ESG and sustainability are two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably because they both have the same overall meaning, objectives, and goal. Regulators, employees, and consumers frequently use the phrase ‘sustainability’, which is a larger term that refers to long-term company strategy development and implementation.

The term ‘ESG’ is considered more specific and measurable as it focuses on three distinct areas of focus: the environment, society, and governance. Investors have played a significant role in the increased use of the ESG term in recent years, as it provides distinct areas for classified data collecting and information on potentially financially important environmental, social, and governance concerns.

Why is now a good time for companies to get to grips with ESG?

ESG performance has come to the fore as companies’ customers, regulators and financial partners are seeking credible annual ESG disclosure, which will inform their long term engagement and investment with a company. In the years ahead, ESG reporting will only grow in significance for companies, as new regulations are introduced to support the implementation of sustainability policy, and as investors select companies based on their ability to deliver continuous sustainability improvements.

Most notably, at a regulatory level, the upcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive legislation will require large companies to report annually on information about their sustainability strategy, their ESG targets, the role of the board and management in driving sustainability performance, and the principal adverse impacts connected to the company and its value chain, intangibles, and how they have identified the information they report.

What is contained in Origin Green’s Pathways to Enabling ESG Strategy Development?

For many companies mandatory ESG reporting is a complex topic to integrate within business strategies. The Pathways document aims to advise on how best companies can integrate ESG into their business strategy to align with emerging marketplace and regulatory requirements, and details how the Origin Green programme is a valuable support to businesses looking to start and integrate ESG and ESG reporting into their business.

How does Origin Green support companies to meet ESG reporting requirements?

The Origin Green programme requires members to complete a multi-annual Origin Green development plan template and complete a materiality assessment to ensure the most material sustainability target areas to the business and stakeholders are included within the plan. Each year, members must report with quantitative data on their sustainability target progression. These annual target submissions are then quality checked and verified by a third-party.

Through this annual reporting process Origin Green members have developed an accountability chain which supports governance and annual data gathering across a host of sustainability target areas, which will greatly support companies to meet ESG reporting requirements.