PwC Cyprus announced on Thursday that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of companies report a very high or extremely high level of confidence in their readiness to comply with the forthcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), according to findings from the inaugural 2024 Global CSRD Survey.

The survey, which encompassed the perspectives of over 500 senior executives and business professionals spanning finance, sustainability, and risk sectors, highlighted the significant global influence of the directive poised to affect approximately 50,000 companies.

Interestingly, the data indicates a strong consensus on the impact of the CSRD beyond the EU borders: a robust 79 per cent of companies headquartered outside the EU, alongside 74 per cent of those within the EU, concur that the directive is catalysing, or will catalyse, a shift towards integrating sustainability more deeply into company leadership decisions.

From a broad sample of companies headquartered across 38 countries and territories, an impressive 75 per cent are already planning to report on a consolidated group level, including operations beyond the EU.

Despite this marked confidence in sustainability reporting, respondents identified several significant hurdles in implementation.

The foremost challenge, as indicated by 59 per cent of participants, is the availability and quality of data.

Only a fifth of companies slated to report in the 2025 financial year have validated the availability and completeness of their data for disclosures.

Furthermore, less than 60 per cent of all respondents have engaged their technology departments, although a majority intend to do so.

Currently, spreadsheets remain the predominant tool (74 per cent) for sustainability data management, starkly contrasting with the 26 per cent utilising centralised sustainability data storage solutions, like data lakes, and the 20 per cent employing artificial intelligence, although plans may see an increase in these technologies.

Despite the general optimism, particularly among companies nearing their 2025 reporting year (72 per cent), less than half have completed essential preparatory activities.

These include confirmation of reporting options (39 per cent), conducting double materiality assessments (38 per cent), and validating data availability (20 per cent).

Nevertheless, companies that have advanced through these early-stage activities typically exhibit greater confidence in fulfilling the directive’s requirements.

While the survey reflects high confidence levels in addressing commonly reported topics such as workforce (75 per cent), business conduct (75 per cent), and climate change (60 per cent), there is noticeably less assurance about meeting requirements on less familiar topics like biodiversity (35 per cent), pollution (43 per cent), and workers in the value chain (44 per cent).

The CSRD’s influence on corporate leadership’s engagement with sustainability is becoming increasingly evident. According to the survey, 76 per cent believe the directive has already or will soon make sustainability a more critical factor in decision-making processes.

This includes 59 per cent of respondents who note that sustainability considerations have already intensified due to the CSRD, with an additional 17 per cent anticipating similar developments.

The anticipated business benefits from CSRD compliance are diverse and substantial. Over half of the respondents (51 per cent) expect significant enhancements in environmental performance, while 49 per cent foresee improved stakeholder engagement, and 48 per cent anticipate better risk mitigation.

Notably, almost one-third believe CSRD benefits revenue growth (28 per cent) or cost savings (26 per cent) to a large extent.

The expectation of financial benefits is higher for companies closer to their reporting deadline, with 38 per cent of companies due to report in FY 2025 expecting to benefit to a large extent through revenue growth and 34 per cent through cost savings.