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Sustainability Reporting

A guideline for Swiss SME

Selected regulations on sustainability reporting

At a glance


Sustainability in terms of ecology, social commitment and corporate governance aspects (ESG) is a highly relevant topic in practice. The scientific community is involved as a discussion partner and develops well-founded solutions for various related issues. The Institute for Financial Management, for example, is also working on this topic in the context of accounting.

Transparency regarding corporate activities in the context of sustainability is expected by society and increasingly demanded by politicians. Numerous guidelines and standards for sustainability reporting are becoming established on the international stage. A wide range of frameworks are already available, especially for large companies. In recent decades, therefore, sustainability reporting has gained considerably in importance. While about 30 years ago only about 12% of the largest companies published sustainability reports, more than 80% did so in 2020. But what does this mean for the Swiss SME world? Does it affect them at all and if so, will it be a purely additional administrative burden?

The project described here had the goal of developing a concrete preliminary study and the contents for a more comprehensive Innosuisse project. In the preliminary study, the necessary basic research (including feasibility study, development of initial concrete proposals, sounding with stakeholders) was processed. The goal of the Innosuisse project based on this research is to develop a sustainability solution for Swiss SMEs in terms of rating and reporting. A «Swiss Non-Financial Reporting Standard» (SNFRS; current working title) shall be developed and made available to Swiss SMEs as a guideline for sustainability reporting. The SNFRS is to be designed to cover all sectors and be based on the requirements of Swiss law. At the same time, it has to be compatible with EU law and international standards.

The findings of the preliminary project were made publicly available in various publications (see publications database ZHAW digitalcollection and the «Sustainable Finance» website of the SML).

Further information