The Evolution of Sustainability Reporting: BRSR Propelling the Indian Business Landscape

ESG reporting has become increasingly crucial in today’s corporate landscape as businesses recognize the importance of their social and environmental impacts. In India, the evolution of sustainability reporting has seen significant milestones, with the introduction of the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) framework emerging as a landmark development.

The Rise of Sustainability Reporting

Sustainability reporting gained traction globally with the publication of the Brundtland Report in 1987, emphasizing the concept of sustainable development. Since then, organizations worldwide have embraced the idea of reporting not only financial performance but also their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.

In India, the Companies Act of 2013 mandated certain qualifying companies to report on their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities. This laid the groundwork for broader sustainability reporting initiatives within the Indian corporate sector.

Introduction of BRSR

India, demonstrating promise and capability, has emerged as a proactive participant in combating climate change and achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This proactive stance is evident in various internal regulatory schemes formulated, including the introduction of the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) framework by SEBI.

In May 2021, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) framework, mandating the top 1,000 listed entities (by market capitalization) to include BRSR as part of their Annual Report submitted to SEBI starting from the financial year 2022-23. Further, in July 2023, SEBI announced that a few listed companies would require to report on newly added ESG metrics for mandatory disclosure under the ‘BRSR Core’.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) framed the original Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR) guidelines in 2009, marking India’s initial venture into ESG regulatory frameworks and disclosures. BRR provided the foundation upon which a more comprehensive ESG reporting framework could be developed. It served as the starting point for the evolution of BRSR, a process that spanned a decade and aimed to refine and expand its scope to address the intricate ESG disclosure requirements. BRSR was crafted to meet the rigorous global quality standards prevalent in today’s sustainable reporting landscape.

Key Driving Forces of BRSR

BRSR requires businesses to report on various parameters, including governance, stakeholder engagement, environmental impact, and social responsibility.

Governance: Companies are required to disclose their governance structure, board composition, and mechanisms for stakeholder engagement.

Stakeholder Engagement: BRSR emphasizes the importance of engaging with stakeholders and understanding their expectations regarding sustainability practices.

Environmental Impact: Reporting on environmental impact involves disclosing energy consumption, emissions, water usage, and initiatives undertaken to mitigate environmental risks.

Social Responsibility: Companies need to report on their social initiatives, such as community development programs, employee welfare schemes, and diversity and inclusion efforts.

Implementation Challenges

While BRSR represents a significant step forward in promoting sustainability reporting, its implementation has posed challenges for companies. Many businesses, especially smaller ones, struggle with data collection, reporting methodologies, and aligning with BRSR requirements. Additionally, there’s a need for capacity building and awareness among stakeholders to ensure effective implementation.

Impact of BRSR

Despite the challenges, BRSR has had a positive impact on the Indian business landscape:

  • Enhanced Transparency: BRSR has improved transparency by encouraging companies to disclose their ESG practices, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions.
  • Improved Accountability: With increased reporting requirements, companies are held more accountable for their social and environmental impacts, driving them to adopt more responsible business practices.
  • Investor Confidence: Investors are increasingly considering ESG factors in their investment decisions. BRSR provides them with valuable insights into companies’ sustainability performance, enhancing investor confidence.
  • Competitive Advantage: Companies that excel in sustainability reporting gain a competitive advantage by attracting socially responsible investors, customers, and talent.

Recent Statistics to Look At

Indian companies are progressively adopting BRSR to publish their sustainability performance. According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, 75% of Indian companies are currently reporting on their sustainability and ESG performance.

Leading Indian companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Sterlite Tech, and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) are reporting under BRSR. These companies are disclosing various sustainability metrics, including water consumption, waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions, corporate governance, and employee diversity practices.

ESG Paving the Way Forward

The evolution of sustainability reporting, propelled by initiatives like BRSR, is expected to continue shaping the Indian business landscape. Going forward, there’s a need for greater collaboration between regulators, businesses, and civil society to address implementation challenges and ensure the effectiveness of sustainability reporting frameworks.

Sustainability reporting has evolved into a critical aspect of corporate governance, with the introduction of frameworks like BRSR driving transparency, accountability, and responsible business practices in India. While challenges remain, the increasing adoption of sustainability reporting signals a positive shift towards a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

As businesses strive to balance profit with purpose, sustainability reporting will play a pivotal role in shaping their long-term success and contribution to society and the environment.


IRIS Business Services (Asia) Pte. Ltd., Singapore

IRIS Business Services, LLC, USA

Atanou S.r.l. (Italy)

IRIS Logix Solutions Private Limited, India

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