Supporting BSOs in assessing their SME members' readiness to meet European Sustainability Reporting Standards

From 9-10 May 2024, SIPPO Serbia got together with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS) and the consultancy company ANTEJA ECG to deliver an in-depth two-day capacity development workshop on the rules and requirements for companies to report on sustainability related impacts, opportunities and risks under the  Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) to CCIS employees on ESG regulations and the basis of sustainability reporting.

Sustainability Reporting

A key objective of the workshop was to coach the CCIS on the development and application of a sustainability readiness assessment tool designed to meet the needs of exporting Serbian SMEs. The Sustainability Readiness Assessment Tool (SRA) will equip the CCIS team to better evaluate SMEs' readiness to adopt sustainable practices and comply with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) regulations, thus empowering them to enhance their sustainability efforts.

Providing recommendations and guidelines on sustainability reporting
Working closely with CCIS representatives, Anteja ESG consultants Mateja Dermastia and Dr. Gerd Meier zu Koecker assessed the effectiveness of the sustainability readiness reporting tool templates currently available on the market, pinpointing areas for enhancement to ensure proper implementation. They brought up key recommendations and guidelines on the ESG reporting tool while raising awareness about the importance of building a systemic approach in sustainability reporting, with a particular focus on SIPPO-supported sectors – Value-added Textile, Technical Wood, and Natural Ingredients.

Measuring the environmental, social, and economic impact of companies
The SRA serves as a strategic inclusive tool which helps to assess the social, environmental and governance impacts of economic activities in specific sectors and the respective need for improvement by export-ready companies. The tool helps measure and evaluate the environmental, social, and economic impacts of companies. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for sustainability assessment tools. That is why this workshop and live discussion with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry team was an important first step of SIPPO’s efforts to help export-ready businesses from Serbia better meet future ESG reporting requirements”, said Mateja Dermastia, CEO of Anteja ESG.

Raise awareness for sustainability reporting
There are several challenges along the way to designing fully functional and efficient sustainability reporting tools for Serbian SMEs. The live workshop allowed participants to revise the offered sustainability readiness assessment template, gain more clarity about the importance of measuring different ESG aspects related to economic activities of micro- and small-size companies, but also enhance its effective implementation. “The Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s aim is to raise awareness, enable access and better understanding of sustainability practices deriving from the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to the micro- and SMEs businesses in Serbia. Thanks to SIPPO’s support in the implementation of the “Sustainable Access to Market” activity, started in 2023, we now progress towards the development of the sustainability self-assessment readiness tool tailored to the specific needs of Serbian companies. This sustainability tool, once finalized and validated, will effectively serve Serbian companies to assess their performance through the components of the environmental, social and governance aspects, while providing a framework for reporting in accordance with the VSME and ESRS, and recommendations for taking actions for improvements and to set the targets”, highlighted Dusanka Kalezic, Advisor to the President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia.

Broader validation required as next steps
This workshop presented a unique opportunity for all participants to learn more, start discussing, and explore possibilities to improve the existing sustainability readiness assessment tool to better fit the Serbian business environment. Going forward, the next step includes broader validation from the CCIS of the upgraded sustainability assessment tool. This will be followed by conducting a pilot sustainability readiness assessment for companies doing business in SIPPO’s supported sectors – Value-added Textile, Technical Wood, and Natural Ingredients. This approach will enable an overview of ESG practices already in place, and it identifies areas which need further improvement. 

The capacity development workshop was organized under the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO) implemented in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), aiming to develop specialized business services to support sustainable growth, competitiveness, and internationalization of export-ready companies in Value-added Textile, Technical Wood, and Natural Ingredients Sector.

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