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Practice Group

ESG – Environmental Social Governance

Evaluation of the corporate contribution to sustainability

ESG – Environmental, Social, Governance – stands for one of the greatest trends and challenges of our time: a fundamental transformation of the economy. ESG has evolved from a pure risk and compliance topic to a central lever of value generation.

Numerous political and civil society initiatives are currently increasing the pressure on companies worldwide to help shape the sustainable transformation of the global economy. Sustainable financing instruments (sustainable finance) are playing an increasingly important role in facilitating access to the capital needed by those companies that have a long-term, sustainable approach to corporate governance.

To identify these companies, the G7, the G20, the IFRS Foundation and the European Union, among others, are currently working on standards for sustainability reporting. These standards will form the basis for the categorisation into sustainably and non-sustainably operating companies and will decisively influence the access to capital for companies.

From Green Finance to Sustainability Reporting

Who determines what is green?

For years, the topic of sustainability was characterised by voluntary guidelines and self-commitments of companies. Associations, NGOs and political institutions set standards and regulations, but increasing regulation is foreseeable.

The EU taxonomy introduces a binding system for identifying and categorising environmentally sustainable activities. It forms the future basis for disclosure obligations of companies and financial market participants as well as for the EU Green Bond Standard. The need for advice on the compliance of financing with relevant standards and frameworks as well as on the assessment of a company’s sustainability (sustainability reporting and ratings) is thus growing across industries. In addition, investors are actively addressing ESG issues and are increasingly committed to “green” goals.

With our multidisciplinary team of experts from the fields of legal and tax advice, auditing, business management and audit-related advisory services, BRL supports clients in numerous ESG projects and issues ranging from green finance to sustainability reporting.


Our main services

M&A transactions

Integration of ESG aspects along the deal cycle – incl. post-merger integration; ESG due diligence; ESG post-M&A disputes

Capital market & financing: 

Sustainable/green finance or sustainable financing instruments (green bonds, green loans, social bonds, sustainability bonds, sustainability-linked bonds, sustainability-linked loans); issuance of sustainable bonds and optimisation of ESG ratings; ESG criteria in financing and loan agreements


Tax aspects of ESG such as tax regulation and compliance as well as tax strategies


National and international ESG legislation – incl. implementation and risk minimisation; development of “forward-looking” ESG agenda – such as in the fields of company law (“corporate governance”), commercial law (e.g. “Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains”) and real estate law

Audit & reporting: 

Voluntary and statutory auditing of sustainability reports, non-financial statements and ESG reporting within the scope of a “Limited/Reasonable Assurance”; auditing of the ESG-related internal control system; advice on the introduction of reporting

Governance and Assurance: 

Effective processes and ESG control mechanisms; entrenchment in company contracts or internal guidelines

Risk Advisory Services (RAS): 

ESG compliance consulting; due diligence and internal audits; integration of ESG into the ICS, risk management and compliance management system; compliance with ESG standards and frameworks as well as benchmark performance – e.g. with regard to the Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains (German acronym: LkSG), the Whistleblower Directive and the EU Sustainable Finance Frameworks (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive – CSRD, EU Taxonomy and Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation – SFDR)

In collaboration with the Value Balancing Alliance, BRL ensures enhanced sustainability

BRL iRL – along with the Big-Four accounting and consulting firms – is one of the five exclusive pro-bono consultants of the Value Balancing Alliance.

The VBA is an alliance of multinational companies that have joined forces with a common goal: developing methods to measure and compare the value of companies’ contributions to society, the economy and the environment – a metric not previously reflected in a company’s balance sheet. The alliance compiles and converts environmental and social impacts into comparable financial data.

The combination of excellent teamwork and a structured strategic approach enables BRL, together with VBA, to create sustainable value.

VBA members include AngloAmerican, BASF, BMW, Bosch, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Post DHL, Draeger, Holcim, Kering, L’Oréal, Michelin, Mitsubishi Chemical, Bayer, Novartis, Otto Group, Porsche, SAP, Sana AG, Schaeffler, Shinhan Financial Group, SK and the ZF Group. In addition, the Alliance cooperates with Oxford and Harvard Universities. Moreover, the VBA coordinates its work with global standard setters and organisations such as the IFRS Foundation/ISSB, the G7 and G20, the World Economic Forum, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and provides expertise to the OECD’s B4IG programme. 

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