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50 years ago, the only social responsibility for corporations was to make a profit for shareholders. The environment and social well-being of employees and society were not that important. Now it is completely different. Below we will discuss the global attention for sustainability, the way in which this is implemented through international initiatives and agreements, how this translates into legislation and regulations for companies and how the sustainability agenda is partly driven by taxes.

The emergence of attention to sustainability

Has society always been concerned about the sustainability of our earth and our existence? Not witness the statement about the view on the social responsibility of companies by Milton Friedman, who stated in the New York Times Magazine in 1970 that the only social responsibility of companies is to increase their profits. Shortly afterwards, in 1972, the Club of Rome called public attention to its report on the harmful effects of growth in the world. The report analyzed the impact of increasing world population, industrialization, food production and environmental pollution on the planet. Key conclusions of the study were that the world population increased, but not the amount of food nor natural resources. In 1987, the Brundtland Commission released its report with the aim of uniting countries in the pursuit of sustainable development. The commission was established by the United Nations to examine the relationship between environmental issues and economic development. The Brundtland Report had a significant impact on policy and discussions on sustainability and environmental issues. It laid the foundation for the Earth Summit (also known as the Rio Summit) that took place in 1992 and resulted in important international agreements, including the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Convention. The report remains an important reference for sustainable development and has contributed to awareness of the need to preserve the planet's natural resources for future generations. From that time on, corporate boards were expected to regard the environment, employees and consumers as significant and legitimate stakeholders. In the 1990s, new definitions were added to the concept of corporate social responsibility, such as stakeholder theory and business ethics. From 2003 onwards, various countries and organizations started developing corporate governance codes that promote sustainable entrepreneurship. These codes are guidelines and recommendations that help companies make responsible decisions in the areas of the environment, social aspects and corporate governance.

International initiatives for a healthier world

Various treaties and agreements have been concluded internationally. We will mention the three most important of these. The Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs ) are a collection of 17 global goals established by the United Nations in 2015. The SDGs are part of resolution: ' Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development', in short the 2030 Agenda, the development agenda for the period from 2015 to 2030 of the 193 member states of the United Nations. There are sustainable development goals regarding combating poverty and hunger, ensuring good health and well-being for people, quality education, gender equality, clean water, affordable and clean energy, work and the economy, reducing inequality, achieving sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate, biodiversity, peace and justice. The Paris Climate Agreement is an international treaty adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The agreement aims to coordinate global efforts from 2020 to the year 2100 to limit global warming and reduce the effects of reduce climate change. The main goals of the agreement are to keep the global average temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels around the year 1900, and to reduce CO2 emissions to 1990 levels. Both goals are seen as the limit to prevent dangerous and irreversible consequences of climate change. The European Green Deal is a European program to combat climate change. According to these agreements, Europe must reduce CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. By 2050, Europe must be the first climate-neutral continent.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Directive (CSRD)
To strengthen transparency around sustainability and other non-financial matters, the European Commission has issued the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which will come into effect from 1 January 2024. The CSRD imposes non-financial transparency requirements for a wide range of companies. In addition, the CSRD prescribes that an unambiguous reporting standard be drawn up in Europe, which makes it clear how non -financial information must be reported. In terms of content, the reporting requirements in the field of sustainability information are being expanded, they must be included in the management report , and the Board of Directors (Board of Directors) and the Supervisory Board (SB) must take explicit responsibility for this. A assurance report, issued by an accountant, for the non-financial information obliged.

The CSRD will apply to approximately 7,200 companies in the Netherlands and to a total of approximately 50,000 companies in Europe.

CSRD scope and points of interest

sustainability in the Caribbean , as the CSRD will also have an indirect impact on local companies. This could be, for example, as a group company of a European multinational, but also outside the group. After all, companies must report on sustainability throughout the entire value chain, including their suppliers, customers and other business relations. This will have an effect on the requirements that these companies impose on their relations, for example in the field of sustainable purchasing. This requires documentation and transparency from companies throughout the chain, up to and including lending. Moreover, international connections threaten to be jeopardized in the short term if we do not keep up with the rapidly growing international attention for sustainability.

Steering through tax initiatives

Taxes can be used as an instrument to achieve sustainability goals. Undesirable behavior by companies can be taxed. Consider a tax on plastic. On the other hand, tax benefits can be granted to companies that perform well in the field of sustainability. It is also possible that the trend in paying taxes in polluting sectors, for example, will be published. There is still a lot of work to be done in Curaçao in the field of sustainability.