ESG Frameworks, Standards, and Regulations

In private markets, various frameworks, standards, and regulations offer principles and guidance to help stakeholders understand ESG risk and value creation.

ESG Frameworks Builder dashboard screenshot

What’s the difference between
frameworks, standards, and regulations?

With ESG constantly evolving, frameworks, standards, and regulations help standardize reporting and disclosure. Standardization helps improve understanding of the material impacts of business on sustainability factors, enable peer-to-peer comparison of ESG data, and allows for replicability across industries and sectors.

ESG Frameworks

ESG Frameworks are broad and provide a contextual “frame” for disclosure topics in ESG reporting. Frameworks focus on the bigger picture, such as information structure and what broad topics are covered.

ESG Standards

ESG Standards are detailed and replicable requirements for reporting. The specificity of standards promote consistency of information and allow organizations to compare ESG data over time.

ESG Regulations 

ESG Regulations are legal, mandatory reporting requirements set by a governing body or regulatory authority. These regulations vary by geography and are set by lawmakers, for example the European Commission in the EU, the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.

ESG Frameworks

There are many frameworks that support ESG reporting. TCFD, SDGs, and CDP are some of the most widely accepted frameworks.


Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) was established to develop a framework of disclosure recommendations for climate-related financial information. This promotes more informed investment, credit, and insurance underwriting decisions and facilitates the understanding of concentrations of carbon-related assets in the financial sector and financial systems that may be exposed to climate-related risks.


United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a collection of 17 global sustainable development goals aimed to combat the world’s most pressing environmental, social, and economic challenges. The SDGs provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity that cover social and environmental topics, and are a call for a global partnership across these thematic areas. They serve as a broad framework for impact reporting.


Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an international nonprofit organization that runs a global disclosure system to support investors, companies, cities, states, and regions  measure their environmental impacts. CDP collects and standardizes environmental data through a voluntary basis to better inform corporate and city progress towards climate change, forests, and water security goals through an independent scoring methodology.

ESG Standards

Voluntary standards can help a company improve reporting of its sustainability impacts by providing guidance around language and presentation for stakeholders. SASB Standards and GRI are examples of common ESG standards.


Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Standards identify the environmental, social, and governance issues most relevant and may potentially impact the financial performance and overall enterprise value of an organization. These standards are voluntary and industry-specific, which allow for more flexibility to determine what ESG topics are financially material for an organization’s unique positionality.


GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards is an international independent standards organization that supports organizations to identify and report on their impacts on the economy, environment and people. GRI Standards is one of the most commonly used reporting standards globally and offer Universal Standards as well as topic-specific standards.

ESG Regulations

ESG regulations are constantly evolving and seek to increase transparency in sustainability claims. The SFDR and CSRD are two notable disclosure regulations.

Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR)

The Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) is a European regulation that aims to improve transparency among sustainable investments. It aims to better disclose the sustainability claims of various investment products in the EU.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a European regulation which requires large companies above a threshold to disclose risks and opportunities related to ESG practices, and is planned to take effect in 2024. Topics companies are required to report on to include carbon, water, pollution, biodiversity, and other ESG topics. Companies are required to disclose through annual reports with financial information.


What metrics are investors asking for?

Identifying which metrics matter for your company or firm is important for your reporting. See the top metrics requested by GPs in the Novata platform.

What is a materiality assessment?

A materiality assessment enables companies to better understand the prioritization of specific metrics to their organization and the sustainability strategy. Conducting a thorough materiality assessment allows companies to identify specific key issues, risks, and priorities, understand their impact on stakeholders, and develop a strategy to guide an ESG program.

Why are standards, frameworks, and regulations important?

Frameworks, standards, and regulations help companies create clear and concise reports for stakeholders and investors. Having an ESG report built with high quality data helps make it easy to compare performance to peers, promote internal alignment on goals and priorities, facilitate company growth, and increase awareness of risks and opportunities with ESG factors.

How do you select the right framework or standard for you?

There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right frameworks or standards for your company, including industry, size, and company type. Novata works with companies to help them choose what best aligns with their needs and priorities.

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