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To meet the requirements of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), businesses are getting to grips with reporting material impacts on people and the planet. Doing this robustly is an enormous task, and the deadline is fast approaching.  

But NGOs have been working at this for decades. Their networks and alliances on-the-ground mean that they can quickly identify adverse effects on communities and the environment. This makes campaigners incredibly valuable for understanding the impact of business on society.   

It also makes them helpful for those who must assess double materiality going forwards.   

Identifying impact at source  

While business might see NGOs primarily as drivers of reputational campaigns or advocates of ambitious regulatory moves (like the CSRD), these groups have a primary function:  

The bread and butter of NGOs is to report on the environmental and social impacts of business and government.  

They do it extremely effectively, predictably, and with global impact.   

Activists as amplifiers  

Grassroots groups form when communities feel they have been severely negatively impacted, often by business activity. 

But initially, these voices of protest can go unheard.  

Then, these campaigns are picked up by networks connecting grassroots NGOs with international campaigning powerhouses. Suddenly, the concerns of those grassroots groups are heard in Europe or North America – right on the doorstep of the multinational companies whose subsidiaries are implicated.  

Campaigning data shows this mechanism at work very clearly, and we have seen it drive significant impact. Firms can be caught entirely unawares by campaigning on a supply chain issue of which they had no prior knowledge themselves.   

How can businesses derive insight from NGO campaigns?  

NGOs across the world are conducting materiality assessments, which are essential for CSRD reporting, for us – if we can cut through the noise.  

To extract the maximum insight from NGO campaigns – so that they can be used as the basis for a robust, data-driven materiality assessment – we need to get a birds-eye view. When you are monitoring the campaigns of tens of thousands of NGOs across the globe as they report on the impacts of your business, you can distil out trends which are not only insightful, but also robust and defensible.   

This is because people on the ground have reported those impacts as they experience them. They have then fed them up through the grassroots, across international networks, and publicised them ready for us to analyse – that is the next step.  

Using them as a basis for double materiality assessments can ensure compliance in your supply chain.  


A bespoke service

SIGWATCH’s analysis of the impact of activism is tailored to your business needs. Our team has experience working with clients across all sectors on the full spectrum of issues – from human rights to biodiversity loss to alternative energy sources.

What our clients say

What our
clients say

“In our experience, SIGWATCH is one of the few sources of ESG data we can absolutely trust to be reliable.”

Our company is based in Japan. Most employees are Japanese and we don’t really know what is happening around the world. SIGWATCH gives us visibility of the global ESG issues and trends we need to have on our radar.

With SIGWATCH, we’re able to absorb NGO data in an awesome way that
simply wouldn’t be possible otherwise. We can hear the NGOs’ voice, to better
strategize and get ahead of trending issues.

With social listening, we’re limited to knowing what people are saying only about OECD. With SIGWATCH, we see not only what is being said about us, but also what is being said about everyone else.

A lot is said and written about sustainability and ESG every day but no one,
apart from SIGWATCH, provides the big picture, SIGWATCH offers a comprehensive overview of what’s happening in the corporate sustainability
world rather than just a narrow snapshot.

“SIGWATCH is a good source to show that NGOs are watching us and watching our clients, and we definitely need to be aware of the issues they are bringing up.”