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ESG sustainability criteria and corporate governance

The abbreviation ESG stands for "Environmental, Social, and Governance". This addresses the areas that are significantly affected by corporate activities: Environmental, Social and Governance. ESG criteria are used to measure how sustainably and ethically a company operates. They are particularly important for investors, lenders (banks), customers and regulatory authorities. The ESG criteria are based on 17 sub-goals of the UN, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Integrating ESG principles into corporate strategy and practice is an important step towards more sustainable and responsible business practices. Companies that invest in ESG aspects can benefit in the long term from an improved reputation, increased competitiveness and better risk minimization.

Rules and requirements

  1. Transparency: Companies must report transparently on their ESG practices. This includes information on environmental measures, social initiatives and governance structures.

  2. Sustainability reports: Many companies publish regular reports that show their progress with regard to ESG criteria.

  3. Legal regulations: Compliance with relevant laws and regulations regarding environmental protection, employee rights and good corporate governance.


  1. Investment decisions: Investors, including banks, use ESG criteria to determine whether a company is in line with their values and sustainability goals.

  2. Risk management: Companies recognize that poor ESG management can lead to financial and reputational risks.

  3. Benchmarking and ratings: ESG ratings and benchmarks are used to evaluate and compare companies in terms of their sustainability performance.

Obligations for companies

  1. Compliance with standards: Companies must adhere to national and international standards and guidelines for environmental protection, social commitment and good corporate governance.

  2. Stakeholder engagement: Involving stakeholders, such as employees, customers and the local community, to ensure that their needs and expectations are taken into account.

  3. Continuous improvement: Companies should constantly look for ways to improve their ESG performance.


  1. Lack of standardization: There are few universal standards for measuring and reporting ESG performance, which makes comparisons difficult. However, efforts to define these standards using measurable criteria are making progress. The driver of this development is the financial sector in particular. The aim here is to be able to better assess and safeguard investment decisions with regard to future prospects of success. The aim of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), for example, is to develop standards for corporate reports on sustainability factors with a focus on financial impacts, while the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) aims to provide consistent information for investors, lenders, insurers and other stakeholders in order to better understand and assess climate-related risks and opportunities.

  2. Costs: Implementing ESG initiatives can be expensive for companies, especially smaller ones.

  3. Complexity: Integrating ESG principles into business strategy can be complex, especially in industries with a high environmental impact or in global supply chains.