ESG Standards - An Overview

ESG standards are the frameworks used for reporting on sustainability in a structured way.

ESG Standards?

An ESG standard provides a framework, so the sustainability reporting follows a structured approach.

For example, ESG standards indicate what and how data need to be collected to measure the performance of environmental topics like water consumption. ESG frameworks can also help to identify gaps where data is missing.
As long as companies are using the same reporting standard, the results are comparable to some extent.
Regularly performed ESG reporting applying the same standard makes it easy to monitor the progress and the goals achieved.

Common ESG Standards

Our list of common ESG standards is in alphabetical order and represent no ranking or comparison of ESG standards. Follow the links to get more details about each reporting standard.

GRESB, GRI, SBTi, SASB, TCFD, CDP, CDSB - ESG reporting standards
CDP - Climate Disclosure Project

“We focus investors, companies, cities and governments on building a truly sustainable economy by measuring and acting on their environmental impact.” CDP Homepage

The CDP, founded in 2000, is a not-for-profit charity.

The Details about CDP

The CDP / Carbon Disclosure Project is an international not-for-profit organisation. Offices are in the United Kingdom, Japan, India, China, Germany and the United States of America.

The CDP helps companies, states, regions, and cities disclose their environmental impact through a dedicated reporting framework and develop carbon emission reduction strategies. The goal is a transition towards a sustainable economy.

Over 6.000 corporations, 550 cities, 100 states and regions use the CDP framework. In addition, more than 800 institutional investors support the disclosed environmental impact from companies reporting using the CDP framework. The CDP also offers options for the disclosure on topics like water, forests and supply chain.

If your focus is on climate-related disclosure, you can find out more about the CDP online at

CDSB - Climate Disclosure Standards Board

“The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) is an international consortium of business and environmental NGOs. We are committed to advancing and aligning the global mainstream corporate reporting model to equate natural capital with financial capital.” CDSB Homepage

Established in 2007 and located in the UK, The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) provides an environmental information reporting framework.

The Details about CDSB 

Located in the UK, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) provides an environmental information reporting framework to report environmental information “with the same rigour as financial information”.

There are 12 reporting requirements under CDSB with topics ranging from “Governance” to “Assurance”.

The CDSB describes the framework’s objectives by helping companies transform their sustainability information into long-term value, providing clear and concise information to investors for their decision making, and adding value to a company mainstream report.

To learn more about the CDSB, you can access their website here. In addition, the framework is available online here.

ESRS - European Sustainability Reporting Standard

With the introduction of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), uniform disclosure requirements will apply to those companies in the European Union that fall under the regulations of this directive. Being a uniform reporting standard, the European Sustainability Reporting Standard (ESRS) will be the framework for reporting under the CSRD. 

The ESRS is available as a draft at the EFRAG website. Read our blogpost on the ESRS for what we know so far about this upcoming standard.

GRESB - Global ESG Benchmark for Real Assets

“GRESB provides validated ESG performance data and peer benchmarks for investors and managers to improve business intelligence, industry engagement and decision-making.” GRESB Homepage

GRESB was established in 2009 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and is a leading benchmark for real estate and infrastructure investments.

The Details About GRESB

The Global ESG Benchmark for Real Assets (GRESB) was established in 2009 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and has become the leading ESG disclosure framework for real estate and infrastructure. Institutional and financial investors use the data and benchmarks for their decision making.

In 2020 GRESB’s real estate benchmark covered over 1.200 property companies, REITs, funds and developers.

For companies in the real estate and infrastructure business, GRESB could be the go-to solution. More information about GRESB is available online at In addition, information about the benchmark report is available here.

GRI - Global Reporting Initiative

“As a provider of the global best practice for impact reporting, our mission is to deliver the highest level of transparency for organisational impacts on the economy, the environment, and people.​”Global Reporting Initiative Homepage

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) was founded in 1997 in Boston, USA. Currently, it is located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The Details About GRI

According to the KPMG survey on sustainability reporting 2020, “GRI remains the dominant global standard for sustainability reporting“. Businesses, governments, NGOs and others use the GRI framework to report their environmental, social and governance impact. The framework covers a wide variety of topics. For example, the environmental section covers topics like water, biodiversity, and emissions. Examples of topics from the social section include health and safety. Finally, the governance section introduces questions about tax, anti-corruption, and others that are governance-related.

The GRI framework is a “universal framework” that applies to every industry. However, as of 2021, GRI also started to introduce industry-specific standards. More information about GRI is available online at

SASB - Value Reporting Foundation

“SASB Standards enable businesses around the world to identify, manage and communicate financially-material sustainability information to their investors.” – Value Reporting Foundation Homepage. 

The SASB standards are available for 77 industries. The metrics to report on are specific to each sector and maintained under the auspices of the Value Reporting Foundation.

The Details About SASB

SASB standards are industry-specific. As of 2021, there are 77 industry-specific reporting standards available on the SASB homepage. The standards help businesses communicate their sustainability information to investors. Besides the reporting frameworks, SASB offers the SASB’s Materiality Map and the Materiality Finder. The Materiality Map tool provides an overview of how 26 general sustainability issues are material to the 77 industries covered by the framework. The Materiality Finder tool offers a convenient way to learn more about disclosure topics relevant to a particular sector or industry. The software tool can also be used to compare disclosure topics for various industries side-by-side.

You can find more information about SASB here. In addition, the standards are available for download here.

SBTi - Science Based Targets initiative

“Lead the way to a zero-carbon economy, boost innovation and drive sustainable growth by setting ambitious, science-based emissions reduction targets” – SBTi Homepage.

With a clear emphasis on environmental factors, the Science Based Targets initiative aids businesses in setting science-based targets to reduce emissions aligned to the Paris Agreement goals.

The Details About SBTi

The SBTi or Science-Based Targets initiative is a cooperation between the CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). More than 1.000 companies active in 50 sectors from around the world work with SBTi. As the missions statement indicates, the SBTi puts a clear emphasis on environmental factors.

You can find more information at the SBTi website (here). In addition, the list of companies working with SBTi targets is available here.

TCFD - Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures

“Climate change presents financial risk to the global economy.” – TCFD Homepage.

Founded in 2015, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures focuses on financial risks emerging from climate change.

The Details About TCFD

The TCFD aims to improve and increase the reporting of climate-related financial information by providing a framework for disclosing climate-related risks and opportunities. Both companies and organisations use the TCFD framework for their disclosure. As the name suggests, TCFD focuses on financial risks that stem from climate change. TCFD’s recommendations on climate-related financial disclosures (also sectoral guidelines) are available online. You can find more information on the TCFD at their homepage

UN Global Compact

“The world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative” – UN Global Compact homepage. 

Launched in 2004, the United Nations Global Compact is a voluntary initiative for companies worldwide.

The Details About the UN Global Compact

The United Nations Global Compact started in 2004. It is an initiative targeted at companies worldwide. Companies interested in the UN Global Compact can join voluntarily and follow ten principles organised in the four pillars “Human Rights”, “Labour”, “Environment” and “Anti-Corruption”.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Ten Principles are the foundation of the UN Global Compact Strategy 2021 – 2023. Almost 13.000 companies from 160 countries participate in the process. More information about the UN Global Compact are available online at

UN PRI - Six Principles for Responsible Investment

“The six Principles for Responsible Investment offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into investment practice.” – UN PRI homepage.

Launched in 2006 in New York, the UN Principles for Responsible Investment offer six principles developed by investors for investors.

The Details About PRI

The Principles for Responsible Investment has more than 3.000 signatories (June 2021). The six principles are

  • We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  • We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
  • We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  • We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

The UN PRI website is available here. In addition, the list of signatories is available here.

UN SDG - United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

“MAKE THE SDGS A REALITY” – Sustainable Development Goals homepage. 

The UN Sustainable Development Goals is a global initiative adopted by all countries in the world in 2015. The 17 goals will ensure a sustainable and equitable world by 2030.

The Details About the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN Sustainable Development Goals consist of 17 goals to ensure a sustainable and equitable world by 2030. The universal goals cover, amongst others, poverty, hunger, health and well-being, education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, and climate action.

The UN SDG website is available here. Corporations can download the implementation guide here.

World Economic Forum (WEF) Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics

“Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation” – WEForum homepage.

In September 2020, the World Economic Forum released a white paper titled “Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism – Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation”.

The Details About the WEF Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics

In September 2020, the World Economic Forum released a whitepaper titled “Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism – Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation”. Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC contributed to this paper, which describes a framework that aggregates aspects of various existing standards (like GRI, SASB) into four pillars:

  • Principles of Governance
  • Planet
  • People
  • Prosperity

They are aligned with the essential Sustainable Development Goals. You can download the whitepaper at

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