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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

Key theme for businesses worldwide

Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") factors have fast risen to the top of the board agenda with companies increasingly aware that a failure to address these matters can be detrimental to their businesses, both financially and reputationally.

Investor pressure, internal governance and workplace issues, and the proliferation of a myriad of reporting frameworks, standards and requirements across the globe in relation to sustainability and ESG reporting makes this a complex area for boards and companies to manage. Clifford Chance truly understands the ESG agenda and are on hand to help you navigate the fast-changing landscape of international and regional polices and regulations, frameworks and mechanisms as they relate to all aspects of ESG.

How can we help you?



Almost every day new stories appear on how climate change and environmental degradation is affecting our planet, from wild fires in California to ice melting in the Arctic. As a result, climate change and the green economy have become front-of-mind for businesses and society alike and organisations are increasingly being held to account for their actions. As well as presenting great opportunities for business, failure to consider climate targets and address emissions, and an increasing  array of other environmental challenges can lead to significant shareholder exit, stranded assets, and stakeholder criticism.

We have been involved in many first-of-a-kind and award-winning matters across the full spectrum of environmental issues, including green and blue financing, renewable energy, carbon off-setting and net zero strategies, and waste and pollution. 

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Social risks concern the impact that companies have on society and in particular how a company manages relationships with the people it affects, including employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities in which it operates. Businesses able to demonstrate a positive impact strengthen their market position. On the other hand, an aggrieved employee with a whistleblowing compliant leaked to the media revealing a mismatch between stated values and treatment of global labour supply chains can undermine hard-won ESG credentials in moments.

We have deep expertise across the full spectrum of social risks such as diversity and inclusion, human rights, supply chain, working conditions and corruption. This is an especially pertinent area as businesses consider their return to work in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and we would be happy to discuss your concerns with you.



In the current business climate, the ability of boards and other key decision makers to have visibility of, and to take accountability for, the full range of risks, opportunities and threats means that organisational governance has never been so scrutinised. Coupled with this, investors and wider society are increasingly of the view that corporations must have a defined purpose and set of values beyond profit generation which guides governance, decision-making and long-term strategy.

We advise clients across the full-spectrum of governance-related risks and governance compliance issues and would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can assist you in this space.


ESG Board

We have established an ESG Board to draw together our ESG work and ensure each of our clients benefits from our collective experience. The ESG Board is chaired by our Senior Partner, Jeroen Ouwehand, who is supported by a group of cross-disciplinary partners who bring together the Firm's relevant expertise across regions, client types, sectors and practice areas.


Responsible Business

As a leader in our field, we are rightly held to high standards in all we do. Responsible Business is integral to our overall firm strategy. It guides how we conduct our core business, how we develop and support our people, how we foster closer collaboration with our clients, and how we create long-term, sustainable value for all our stakeholders.

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Global Senior Partner Jeroen Ouwehand speaks at the 2020 Green Horizon Summit

​​Global Senior Partner Jeroen Ouwehand spoke about the link between law and climate change at the Green Horizon Summit, outlining the significant role lawyers will play in tackling climate change, as firms help their clients to​ "navigate the conflicting laws​ and regulations across jurisdictions and to anticipate policy and regulatory ​changes including in the area of green finance".

Watch the speech

Responsible Business Report

ESG is an increasingly well understood framework adopted by organisations globally to help them map objectives to promote sustainability their own practices. The concepts that are integral to ESG are embedded in our Responsible Business strategy.

Through the activities highlighted in our Responsible Business Report, we demonstrate our commitment to sustainable growth and how it has endured during a period of uncertainty, disruption and change.

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Clifford Chance senior partner to lead global ESG push

We have established a global taskforce, chaired by senior partner Jeroen Ouwehand to focus on helping organisations to navigate and bring about the accelerating global shift towards more sustainable businesses and societies.

The ESG Board, which brings together representatives from across Clifford Chance's practices and markets, will bring together the firm's market-leading ESG work, fast-tracking the development of best practice.

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