Creating sustainable businesses – a new study guides the way

‘A formula for sustainable success?’ - A study from the EMAS Advisory Board compares two tools for sustainable corporate governance and reporting: the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and the German Sustainability Code (DNK). 


Many companies and organisations base their business model in sustainability in order to meet environmental and social requirements and position themselves for the market of the future. There are a variety of existing standards and options. Tools like the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and the German Sustainability Code (DNK), which have political support, bring about improvements and create a sense of credibility. How can businesses combine these tools to equally benefit society, the environment and their bottom line?

In a study commissioned by the EMAS Advisory Board, the VNU Association for Sustainability and Environmental Management e.V. compared the requirements of both systems and identified how EMAS and DNK intersect. The results not only make it easier for users to get started, but also highlight the benefits of combining both systems.

Integrated sustainability management with EMAS and DNK

The study concludes that companies striving for sustainable production and service, dignified working conditions, clean energy, and environmental and climate protection – in other words, those that want to operate sustainably – can best do so by combining both systems and eliminating duplicate work. The study clearly presents the links between EMAS and DNK and includes an additional working table. This makes it easy to understand how to use EMAS to record and report on all aspects of sustainability. In addition, EMAS is also very well suited to the systematic control and documentation of social aspects, including employee and human rights. For its part, the DNK reporting criteria make it possible to expand in-house environmental management based on EMAS into comprehensive sustainability management systems.

Companies that report based on both EMAS and DNK benefit from the independent, trustworthy review of ongoing performance improvement along with the associated data and figures. They also serve as practical examples of CSR reporting and the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

The study and accompanying information are available for download at

·     Studyorder print copies

·     Excel tool for the study

·     Summary of the results

·     Brief information on the study

Additional information:

EMAS Advisory Board event with presentation and discussion of the study results: 

Environmental Management and Sustainability Meeting, 28.10.2019, Berlin - DIHK