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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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Related insights

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  • ESG Trends
    The rise of climate litigation and the challenges for business

    Activist shareholders and NGOs targeting governments and businesses in relation to climate change are increasingly turning to litigation.

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  • ESG

    The new Biden Administration, COP26, a renewed push from China on climate change and a focus on how we build back better post COVID-19 means that 2021 is going to be the year of ESG – environmental, social and governance issues. Here we explore some of the key trends to watch.

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    ESG Series

    The fast-growing European ESG landscape is significantly impacting the shaping of business strategy across many industries.

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"Any organisation that is really not considering ESG or impact at its core, is going to struggle in the long term to be sustainable in terms of attracting that capital to grow."

With ESG issues now a top priority for businesses, Kenny Nwoso, CEO of Norsad Bank, talks to Global Senior Partner Jeroen Ouwehand and CEO of Principia Advisory David Rodin about the company's continued focus on the 'S' and the 'E'. Their purpose to 'build a better Africa' and approach to ethical investing has had significant social, environmental and developmental impact on the region.

Find out more about "Any organisation that is really not considering ESG or impact at its core, is going to struggle in the long term to be sustainable in terms of attracting that capital to grow."