Translation of sustainability reports in the European Union: why it matters and how to comply with the New Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. As the world faces increasing environmental and social challenges, more and more companies are publishing sustainability reports to showcase their commitment to sustainable business practices. These reports provide stakeholders with valuable information on a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, which can help them make informed decisions about investments, partnerships, and purchasing decisions. However, to ensure that the reports are accessible to stakeholders across the EU, they must be translated into the appropriate languages.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- why translating sustainability reports is essential for companies operating in the EU,
- how to comply with the new corporate sustainability reporting directive, and
- why it’s essential to choose a language service provider (LSP) with experience translating sustainability reports.
Why Translate Sustainability Reports?
The European Union is a diverse region with 24 official languages (and many regional and minority languages!), and companies that operate in multiple EU countries need to ensure that their sustainability reports are accessible to stakeholders in each of these countries. Translating these reports into languages that are most relevant to the company goals helps to ensure that all stakeholders can access the information and make informed decisions based on it. In addition, publishing a sustainability report in the local language shows that the company is committed to transparency and engagement with local stakeholders.
Translating sustainability reports is not just about language; it’s also about cultural nuances. An experienced language service provider (LSP) will understand the cultural context in which the report will be read and can provide guidance on how to adapt the report to ensure it is culturally appropriate. For example, in some cultures, it is considered inappropriate to discuss certain topics openly, so an LSP can help to identify any potential issues and find appropriate ways to address them.
How to Be Compliant With the New Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) In Terms of Language Accessibility
The European Council recently approved a new corporate sustainability reporting directive that aims to improve the consistency, comparability, and reliability of sustainability information disclosed by companies. The new directive will apply to all large EU companies and all listed SMEs—approximately 50,000 companies in total. It will require companies to disclose information on their sustainability performance, policies, and risks, using a standardized framework. To comply with the new directive, companies will need to:
- Develop a sustainability reporting policy that outlines their approach to sustainability reporting.
- Identify their sustainability risks and opportunities and disclose them in their sustainability report.
- Disclose the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts of their activities, products, and services, using a standardized set of indicators.
- Disclose how they are addressing sustainability risks and opportunities, including their sustainability goals and targets, and the measures they are taking to achieve them.
- Include a statement from the company’s management on the company’s sustainability performance, policies, and risks.
- Obtain independent assurance of their sustainability report, where appropriate.
To be compliant with the European Council’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) in terms of language accessibility, companies are required to disclose sustainability information in the official language or languages of the Member State in which they are registered. It also includes provisions that encourage companies to provide sustainability information in other languages to meet the needs of stakeholders in different countries where they operate. Therefore, companies should take the following steps:
Identify the languages of the Member State(s)
The first step is to identify the official language or languages of the Member State(s) where the company operates. This information can be corroborated on the EU’s official website or by consulting with local authorities.
Prepare the sustainability report in the original language
The sustainability report should be prepared in the language that the company typically uses for internal and external communications. It is an important step to ensure accuracy and consistency and that the report is written in a clear and concise manner that accurately reflects the company’s values and goals.
Provide the mandatory translations of the sustainability report
Companies should provide translations of the sustainability report in the official language(s) of the Member State(s) where they operate, if those languages are different from the language in which the report was originally prepared.
Consider the needs of stakeholders
Although it is not mandatory, companies should also consider the needs of stakeholders who may require information in languages other than the official languages of the Member State(s) where the company operates. This is particularly relevant if there are significant linguistic minorities or if the company wants to reach a broader audience. For example, if the company has a significant number of employees, customers, or investors who speak a particular language, it may be beneficial to provide translations in that language.
Use a professional translation service
It’s important to use a professional translation service that has experience translating sustainability reports and is familiar with the terminology and concepts used in sustainability reporting. This can help ensure that the translations are accurate and of high quality.
By following these steps, companies can ensure that their sustainability reports are accessible to stakeholders in the official languages of the Member State(s) where they operate, and in other languages as needed. Translating sustainability reports into all relevant languages for the company and ensuring that they are culturally appropriate shows commitment to transparency and consideration for local stakeholders. On the other hand, failure to make content accessible to stakeholders could lead to reputational damage and loss of investor confidence.
Why Choose an LSP with Experience Translating Sustainability Reports
Translating sustainability reports requires a specific set of skills and experience. An LSP with experience in this area will understand the technical terminology used in sustainability reporting and will be able to ensure that the translation is accurate and consistent. They will also be able to advise on any cultural nuances that need to be taken into account and ensure that the translation is appropriate for the intended audience.
In addition, an experienced LSP will be familiar with the relevant regulations and standards that apply to sustainability reporting, including the new corporate sustainability reporting directive. You may also consider partnering with a company that aligns with your sustainability goals. For example, Win & Winnow is a carbon-neutral translation company, a certified B Corporation, and a member of the Global Compact. We strive to make a positive social, environmental, and economic impact. Every time you choose to work with us, you contribute to making this happen.