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Exploring the ESG Data Convergence Initiative (EDCI)

February 28, 2024

A deep dive for PE firms.

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In the private equity (PE) sphere, the embrace of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles has become a pivotal element of investment strategy, driven by increasing demands for transparency and risk-based due diligence.. Yet, PE firms face significant hurdles in achieving data consistency and comparability across their diverse portfolios due to the fragmented nature of ESG reporting standards. The ESGe Data Convergence Initiative (EDCI) emerges as a vital industry-led solution, aiming to standardize ESG metrics and benchmarks, thus enhancing the reliability and comparability of ESG data to inform investment risk. Through its focused set of key metrics, EDCI seeks to address these challenges head-on, facilitating a more cohesive approach to integrating ESG considerations into investment decisions and promoting a market environment where sustainable practices can thrive. Here’s what PE firms need to know.  

ESG in private markets: unveiling the challenges

The rise of ESG in private equity is increasingly influenced by the critical need for decarbonization, reshaping investment strategies to prioritize environmental considerations. A notable 72% of institutional investors now incorporate ESG factors into their investment decisions, as highlighted by a Preqin survey, signaling a significant shift towards sustainability and responsible investing. This trend is supported by research from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), which suggests that investments focused on ESG criteria can deliver competitive, if not superior, returns compared to traditional investments, thereby reinforcing the value of integrating ESG principles into private equity's operational and investment strategies. However, the journey towards embedding ESG into the core of investment decisions reveals a landscape riddled with obstacles — particularly within the private markets.

The data dilemma

One of the paramount challenges PE firms encounter is the lack of consistency and comparability in ESG data across their investment portfolios. The private markets, known for their opacity, exacerbate this issue, making it difficult for investors to assess ESG performance accurately, price risks appropriately, and benchmark against peers. This inconsistency stems from a myriad of reporting standards, metrics, and methodologies, leading to a fragmented ESG landscape that complicates thorough analysis and informed decision-making.

Bridging the gap: The EDCI initiative

In response to these challenges, the ESG Data Convergence Initiative (EDCI) was conceived as an industry-led effort to harmonize ESG reporting and assessment. Born out of a collaborative endeavor among leading PE firms, institutional investors, and ESG standard-setters, the EDCI aims to streamline ESG metrics and benchmarks, fostering a more standardized and transparent approach to ESG integration in private markets.

The origin story of EDCI is one of collective action and shared vision. Key stakeholders, recognizing the critical need for a unified ESG framework, came together to address the disparities in ESG data. Their goal was to create a common language for ESG performance that could transcend individual interpretations and methodologies, thereby enabling more accurate comparisons and assessments across the industry.

Section 2: Understanding the EDCI framework

This section delves into the essence of the EDCI framework, outlining its foundational goals, the pivotal role of General Partners (GPs) and Limited Partners (LPs), the metrics utilized, and the significance of the annual benchmark.

Fundamental principles and mission

The EDCI is grounded in the pursuit of creating a standardized, transparent, and actionable ESG reporting framework that enables GPs and LPs to seamlessly integrate ESG considerations into their investment analysis and decision-making processes. The initiative's mission is twofold:

  • Enhance data quality and comparability: By establishing a common set of ESG metrics, EDCI aims to improve the quality and comparability of ESG data, facilitating more informed investment decisions and risk assessments.
  • Drive industry-wide adoption: EDCI seeks to encourage widespread adoption of its framework within the private equity sector, thereby elevating the importance of ESG considerations and fostering a culture of sustainable investing.

Role of GPs and LPs

GPs and LPs play a crucial role in the EDCI framework by actively participating in the data submission process. GPs are responsible for collecting, analyzing, and reporting ESG data for their portfolio companies, adhering to the EDCI metrics. LPs, on the other hand, contribute by setting expectations for ESG reporting and using the EDCI benchmarks to evaluate GP performance and align investment strategies with ESG objectives. This collaborative effort between GPs and LPs is essential for the success of the EDCI, as it ensures the availability of high-quality, comparable ESG data across the industry.

Metrics overview

The EDCI framework specifies a set of key ESG metrics designed to capture the most critical and impactful aspects of ESG performance. These metrics are carefully selected to provide a comprehensive overview of ESG considerations that are relevant across various sectors and investment types. The metrics include:

  • Environmental metrics: Carbon footprint, water usage, waste management, and renewable energy usage.
  • Social metrics: Employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, community impact, and labor standards.
  • Governance metrics: Board composition, executive compensation, anti-corruption policies, and shareholder rights.

This structured approach to ESG metrics ensures that GPs and LPs can consistently measure and compare the ESG performance of portfolio companies, fostering a more transparent and accountable investment environment.

Annual benchmark

The EDCI annual benchmark serves as a critical tool for evaluating the ESG performance of investments relative to industry peers. It aggregates the ESG data submitted by GPs, offering insights into trends, best practices, and areas for improvement. The benchmark not only enables GPs and LPs to assess their ESG integration efforts but also promotes a competitive landscape where firms are incentivized to enhance their ESG performance. This annual evaluation fosters a cycle of continuous improvement and innovation in ESG practices within the private equity sector.

Section 3: The impact of EDCI on private markets

The introduction of the ESG Data Convergence Initiative (EDCI) stands to significantly alter the landscape of private equity by enhancing the decision-making process and ESG transparency. This transformation is primarily driven by the standardization of ESG metrics and benchmarks, which facilitates a more straightforward comparison of ESG performance across investments.

Enhanced investment decision-making

For private equity firms, the ability to make informed decisions hinges on the quality and comparability of data at their disposal. EDCI's uniform metrics allow these firms to assess potential investments through a clearer ESG lens, integrating sustainability into their financial analysis more seamlessly. This not only helps in identifying risks and opportunities related to ESG factors but also in aligning investments with the growing demand for sustainable and responsible investing. As a result, firms can better manage their portfolios in a way that reflects both financial and ESG performance, thereby appealing to a broader range of investors.

Case studies  

Case Study 1: Apollo Global Management - balancing risk and opportunity with EDCI

Apollo, known for its diverse investment strategies, recognizes ESG as a key risk-mitigation factor. They actively participate in EDCI, utilizing its core ESG metrics to assess potential financial material risks and opportunities, social and environmental, in target companies. For example, in their 2022 Impact Report, Apollo highlights how EDCI data helped them identify and address water management risks in an industrial portfolio company. This proactive approach not only mitigates potential environmental  

Case Study 2: The Carlyle Group - transparency through collaboration

Carlyle, a founding member of EDCI, champions transparency and collaboration in ESG practices. They leverage EDCI data in their investment due diligence process to inform risk assessments and identify opportunities for value creation through improved ESG performance. Their commitment to EDCI extends beyond internal use. Carlyle co-hosted the 2nd Veterans Initiative Summit with other PE firms, highlighting their dedication to social impact through collaborative efforts.

These case studies showcase how leading PE firms like Apollo, KKR, and Carlyle utilize EDCI to gain a competitive edge. EDCI data empowers them to:

  • Make informed investment decisions by identifying and mitigating ESG risks and opportunities.
  • Enhance ESG transparency for LPs and stakeholders, building trust and attracting capital.
  • Collaborate with peers to drive industry-wide ESG standards and create positive impact.

Relationship to SFDR and other ESG reporting requirements

The EDCI framework does not exist in isolation but rather complements other ESG reporting requirements such as the SFDR for financial institutions within the European Union. While SFDR focuses on the disclosure of sustainability-related information, EDCI provides the standardized metrics necessary for these disclosures. For private equity firms subject to SFDR, adopting EDCI can simplify compliance efforts by ensuring that the ESG data they collect and report meets the regulation's expectations for transparency and detail. This synergy between EDCI and SFDR enhances the overall quality of ESG reporting, making it easier for investors to understand and compare the sustainability credentials of different financial products.

Section 4: Preparing for the 2024 reporting cycle: process and timeline

The 2024 EDCI reporting cycle marks a pivotal moment for private equity (PE) firms committed to ESG excellence. This section serves as your roadmap to aligning your portfolio with EDCI standards, unlocking the power of standardized ESG data and reporting.

Where to start

Assess your current state:

  • Data collection: Map your existing ESG data collection processes for portfolio companies. Identify data sources (internal reports, surveys, external databases), and critical information gaps. Establish collection methods (manual, automated), and frequency (quarterly, annual).  
  • Reporting practices: Analyze your current ESG reporting framework, including metrics used, reporting format (narrative, quantitative), and frequency. Compare your framework to the EDCI Data Submission Template to identify gaps and areas of alignment.
  • Alignment with EDCI: Take a close look at the EDCI metrics framework and compare it to your existing practices. Resources like the EDCI Metrics Definitions & Calculation Guidance provide detailed explanations and examples for each metric.

Next steps

1. Establish structure and process:

  • Formalize your firm’s ESG approach: Invest in tools and resources to enhance your team's understanding of ESG issues and best practices. Organizations like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) offer training specifically for PE professionals
  • Phase-in approach: Establish a plan to gradually incorporate ESG strategy across your portfolio. Prioritize companies based on materiality (high-impact industries, large size) or other factors like data availability.

2. Leverage data platforms:

  • Explore various ESG data management platforms and software systems to streamline data collection, analysis, and reporting. Consider factors like scalability, integration capabilities, and cost when making your selection. Some, like Sustain.Life, offer dedicated EDCI functionalities.  
  • Ensure compatibility: Choose a platform that integrates seamlessly with your existing reporting systems and data infrastructure. This minimizes manual data entry and ensures consistency across reports.

Develop an ESG playbook:

3. Build Systems for engagement and reporting

  • Establish communication protocols with key stakeholders: Establish channels to keep LPs, investors, and other stakeholders informed about your portfolio’s ESG performance.  
  • Focus on transparency and value creation: Showcase the value proposition of EDCI, including improved risk management, enhanced performance, and greater transparency for stakeholders and for standardized ESG data.

Overview of collecting metrics across portfolio companies

Data collection across your portfolio can feel like an uphill battle if there’s no system in place. To get started, think about prioritizing these core tenants of data collection:

  • Standardization: Encourage portfolio companies to adopt standardized data collection formats aligned with EDCI. Provide templates and guidelines to ensure consistency and comparability, like the EDCI data collection guidance.
  • Frequency: Establish a consistent frequency for data collection, considering factors like industry best practices, data availability, and regulatory requirements. Quarterly or annual data collection is common, but adjust based on specific needs.
  • Verification: Utilize independent third-party verification for sensitive data or when required by specific standards. This enhances data credibility and transparency for stakeholders. Organizations like EY or PwC offer ESG data verification services.
  • Incentives: Consider offering incentives or support programs to encourage portfolio companies to participate in EDCI adoption. This could include financial assistance, technical support, or recognition programs.


The ESG Data Convergence Initiative (EDCI) marks a significant milestone in the evolution of ESG reporting and management within the private equity sector. By offering a standardized set of metrics to inform a benchmark, EDCI not only simplifies the ESG data collection process but also enhances transparency, comparability, and accountability across investments. This initiative is a testament to the growing recognition of the importance of sustainable and responsible investment practices and their role in driving long-term value creation.

Looking ahead, the EDCI framework is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of business practices and investment strategies. As the ESG landscape continues to evolve, we can expect further refinements to the EDCI metrics, incorporating emerging sustainability trends and stakeholder expectations. The 2024 reporting cycle, for example, includes new indicators for net-zero goals. The initiative's adaptability and industry-wide support suggest that it will remain at the forefront of fostering corporate responsibility and sustainable investing. For firms looking to lead in this new era, embracing EDCI principles is not just strategic—it's imperative. Learn more about how Sustain.Life’s product solution to seamless EDCI automated reporting.  

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1. Apollo, "Sustainability & Our Impact. "

2. Carlyle, "The EBITDA of ESG: 2023 ESG Report."

3. Carlyle, "Environmental, Social & Governance Statement. "

4. European Commission, "Sustainability-related disclosure in the financial services sector."

5. ESG Data Convergence Initiative,

6. ESG Data Convergence Initiative, "Guiding Principles for determining our metrics."

7. Global Impact Investing Network, "Enhance Your Impact."

8. Prequin, "Why Invest in ESG?."

9. World Business Council for Sustainable Development,

Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Logan Davis
Logan Davis is a freelance sustainability writer that has worked in the sustainability industry for the better part of a decade.
Alyssa Rade
Alyssa Rade is the chief sustainability officer at Sustain.Life. She has over ten years of corporate sustainability experience and guides Sustain.Life’s platform features.
The takeaway

The ESG Data Convergence Initiative (EDCI) provides a standardized framework for private equity firms to integrate ESG considerations into investment decisions, enhancing transparency, comparability, and accountability across portfolios.