Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


New German code raises bar on Euro CSR standards

October 2011

A sustainability code has been produced for German companies and investors wishing to align their activities to CSR. It consists of 20 questions on which companies will report their compliance or reasons for non-compliance.

The code was drafted by the government-sponsored German Council for Sustainable Development, and its foremost requirement is that a business “discloses whether, for its main activities, it analyses the opportunities and risks related to sustainable development for its core business, [and] outlines what measures it is taking in order to operate in line with the main and recognised sector-specific, national and international standards”.

The other 19 standards include duties that companies report CO2 emissions reporting and goals in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol; disclose the measures taken to comply with John Ruggie’s Protect, Respect and Remedy human rights framework; and provide details about how profit is taxed and reinvested locally.

The code is based mainly on the UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative, but makes adherence to many other accepted standards compulsory.

In instituting a ‘comply or explain’ model, the code is both clearer and more rigorous than many other existing European codes, and its aim “to make sustainability stand out through greater transparency, comparability and binding commitment” is ambitious.

The code is to be ratified this month after extensive testing and consultation.

German Council for Sustainable Development | Europe | Codes of conduct

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