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On Tuesday, October 17, in collaboration with CIPE (Center for International Enterprise), AmCham Slovenia organized AmCham Focus in a hybrid format, titled CSRD and ESG reporting – why, what, how?. Our two speakers, Dr. Mitja Pirc, director at Kearney, and Alenka Recelj Mercina, MSc, co-chair of the AmCham Sustainable Growth Committee and head of sustainability at NLB d.d., highlighted the importance of ESG implementation and ESG reporting. AmCham Slovenia also shared the ESG reporting guidelines for some of the Central and Eastern European countries.

In the presentation ESG maturity research and findings in Slovenia, Dr. Mitja Pirc highlighted the fact that even though ESG reporting is gaining prominence, compliance is not the only element that companies deem important. ESG is not only a reporting framework but a way to improve businesses and risk management, lower costs, and get and retain skilled workers.

The two most prominent factors in Slovenia are the ‘E,’ the environmental factor, and the ‘S,’ the role that companies have in society. Especially diligent about ESG-driven business conduct are large companies, as they tend to have more strategies in place pertaining to sustainability, and manufacturing companies that export their products to Western Europe.

Having opened many interesting topics already, our speakers engaged in a debate on how ESG factors impact businesses, the importance of ‘S’ and ‘G’ that are often overlooked, the low carbon transition on the Balkan peninsula, and the room for innovation. After Alenka Recelj Mercina, MSc, shared some insights about how NLB, one of the pioneers of ESG implementation in the banking sector, has implemented ESG factors in their business, Dr. Mitja Pirc stated that more companies should embrace ESG as a value-creating mechanism and not just a PR stunt or a means to optimize costs. “Companies need to find a way not to do it for compliance reasons but to create value,” he stated.

If ‘E’ in ESG is relatively well understood, some debates about the ‘S,’ such as diversity and inclusion, may become political and thus create a division in society. Alenka Recelj Mercina, MSc, added that the ‘G’ brings about many internal company changes and promotes opportunities for improvements in corporate governance.

Europe is moving at several different speeds. Many non-EU countries are not transposing EU law into their regulations; some face low GDP and low awareness, therefore any kind of government measure that supports sustainable development, such as subsidies for e-vehicles or solar panels, is welcome.

The Trust in Business video with eight case studies of local initiatives in Southern and Eastern Europe through which companies and other organizations implemented changes in their operations to help improve trust in business among their local communities that followed inspired further comments on rewarding sustainable practices, the future of corporate social responsibility, and topical issues affecting ESG priorities. “The market will reward sustainable practices,” said Alenka Recelj Mercina, MSc. Dr. Mitja Pirc added that while we talk a lot about the role of companies in ESG conduct, “as consumers, we are also responsible.”

Our speakers wrapped up the event with some food for thought: just as we trust generative AI to run our internal processes and talk to clients, we must trust ESG processes. Trust is the only way forward.