Sustainability of the Company and Access to Financing - webinar report

Monday, 13. September 2021
By approving the European Green Deal, the European Union has set itself the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. With that, the sustainability issue is becoming one of the most important topics also in business. EU intends to invest EUR 500 billion a year and plans to mobilize a further EUR 500 billion each year in the private sector. The decisive tool in this process will be the so-called taxonomy for sustainable activities.

On September 7, 2021, the Slovak Agency for Investment and Trade Development (SARIO) organized a webinar Sustainability of the Company and Access to Financing, introducing numerous participants to the transition to sustainability in terms of reporting the company's sustainability performance and its direct financial implications for business.

The webinar introduced the issue of sustainability in connection with financing and provided answers to such questions as To what extent will the planned EU directive on taxonomy and non-financial reporting affect business in Slovakia? Which companies will continue to have access to financial instruments and which will not? What information will be required by investors and banks to finance your business and business?

 "Currently, non-financial compulsory reports are limited to companies traded on a stock exchange or those meeting the criteria of a large entity and having more than 500 employees. Under the new regulations, non-financial reports will have to be submitted by companies that meet two of the three criteria: they have more than 250 employees, a balance sheet of more than EUR 40 million, and a turnover of more than EUR 20 million. If a company trades on a stock exchange, the new obligation will be applied regardless of its size. In Europe, around 49,000 companies should be affected in the near future, while by now it was obligatory only for 2,000 of them,” explained the scope of the change Marek Kopanický, Consultant and SARIO Innovation Services Team Leader, who moderated the webinar.

According to Jan Kurka, “Taxonomy defines what green sustainable activity is and is primarily intended to tie investment, or to the condition where public and private sector investments and funding will go, and that is precisely why it can be one of the most effective tools of the Green agreements."

The taxonomy has currently been introduced by the European Commission and is expected to be introduced by the end of this year. Intended for companies, financial institutions, and the Member States, just in case of providing public subsidies.

According to Eva Bučová, “Banks are considered to be so-called the secret leverage of sustainability because the banking sector has great power to support or influence the rest of the economy because it affects where funds will flow. In addition, banks will need to figure out how to help those companies whose loans they have on their books transform, maintain jobs, and move each company toward greater sustainability. ”

It is important for companies to realize that in the near future, meeting sustainable standards will be mandatory for companies with more than 250 employees, while vitally affecting their access to finance, as investors and banks will only step up pressure for sustainability. At the same time, reporting on sustainability standards will also affect small and medium-sized companies, since large companies will be forced to choose suppliers who will also meet sustainability standards as much as possible.

It is already clear that companies able to transition to sustainability as soon as possible will have a competitive advantage not only in terms of financing but also in their contracts in supplier-customer relationships.

The company Sustainability and Access to Finance webinar was the first in a series of webinars entitled Sustainable Business: Trends and New Opportunities. Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO) will organize this webinar series together with the Circular Slovakia platform and the consulting company SUSTO - Sustainability Tools. During the autumn, the series will continue with the topics of processing a non-financial report step by step and preventing Greenwashing in communication. For more information go to www.sario.sk or join SARIO monthly Newsletter https://www.sario.sk/sk/o-nas/newsletter
 
Greenwashing is a communication and marketing strategy adopted by companies or other organizations. It consists in putting forward ecological arguments in order to forge an ecologically responsible image among the public. Nevertheless, the reality of the facts does not correspond, or corresponds insufficiently, to the content of the messages shared.
Formed by the union of the words green and brainwashing, this term was created in the early 1990s by NGOs eager to expose environmentally harmful practices of big industrial groups.