Companies have a substantial impact on human rights when carrying out their business activities. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights set the expectation that companies conduct human rights and environmental due diligence (“HREDD“) with respect to their business activities, which includes assessing and responding to actual and potential human rights issues.

The expectation for companies to conduct HREDD is increasingly becoming mandated by legislators across the globe. For example, in Germany the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act will enter into force on 1 January 2023. It is arguably the most comprehensive law in this area to date, since in-scope companies will have to comprehensively analyse their global supply chains, assess the risks within their supply chains and act accordingly. Further, in the European Union an equivalent directive is upcoming. The European Commission’s draft corporate sustainability and due diligence directive (the “Draft Directive“) – which is anticipated to be adopted in 2023 – sets out a proposed HREDD standard, under which companies will be obliged to identify actual and potential adverse human rights and environmental issues arising from their operations or those of their subsidiaries and, where related to their value chains, from their “established business relationships” (for more information on the Draft Directive, read our earlier blog posts here and here). Involving and engaging stakeholders in a meaningful way will be critical for in-scope companies to successfully implement HREDD processes and ensure compliance with these obligations.

To help companies engage with stakeholders, the UN Global Compact Network Germany (“GCNG“) – an organisation created to assist companies in meeting their human rights-related responsibilities – has recently published its “What makes stakeholder engagement meaningful? 5 insights from practice” report (the “GCNG Report“). The GCNG Report highlights five “selected success factors” that companies can adopt to help ensure their engagement with stakeholders is effective and meaningful.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: meaningful stakeholder engagement in due diligence

At the Summer 2022 National Meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”), the Innovation, Cybersecurity, and Technology (H) Committee and its Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (H) Working Group held their first Collaboration Forum session on the topic of algorithmic bias. The Collaboration Forum was established at the Spring National Meeting as a

On 25 August, 2022, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (“ACCR”) expanded its case against the Australian gas company, Santos Ltd. (“Santos”), with new and more detailed allegations around greenwashing.

Last year, ACCR filed a consumer protection lawsuit with the Federal Court of Australia regarding certain misleading or deceptive statements Santos

On August 24, 2022, Texas’ comptroller of public accounts released the list of financial companies subject to divestment by Texas state governmental entities unless the companies cease boycotting energy companies. This Legal Update provides further detail on this action and other states’ anti-ESG provisions and notes the risks for the investment industry and investors.

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On 17 August 2022, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle, “BAFA”) has issued its first handout to provide guidance to companies currently implementing a risk management system to comply with the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (“SCDDA”). The document is aptly titled

Litigation is increasingly being used as a means of advancing – or delaying – effective climate action.

As discussed in our recent legal update on the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment’s 2021 Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation Policy Report (the “2021 Report“), between 2015 and 2021, there was a marked increase in the number of such climate-related cases being brought against private sector actors.  This reflects the growing recognition by prospective litigants of litigation as an effective means of influencing the actions private sector actors are taking to address climate change.

Most recently, the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment’s 2022 Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation Policy Report (the “2022 Report“) confirms that litigation against private sector actors continues to expand as an avenue for climate action.  We discuss the trends identified in the 2022 Report in this blog post.

Continue Reading The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment publishes its 2022 global trends in climate litigation report

On 29 June 2022, the Brazilian Superintendence of Private Insurance (“SUSEP”) published Regulation No. 666/2022, setting forth sustainability requirements applicable to the Brazilian insurance sector. Its goal is to establish guidelines for management of risks that are directly related to ESG policies of insurance and capitalization companies, local reinsurers and pension funds.

Continue Reading Brazilian insurance regulator publishes guidelines on sustainability requirements for the insurance sector

On June 21, 2022, an NGO filed a first-of-its-kind climate change lawsuit against an investment bank in Brazil. Among other claims, the NGO asserts that the bank allegedly maintains equity positions in sectors considered to be the most carbon-intensive, and, based on such allegation, the plaintiff asks the court to compel the bank to prepare

Climate-related litigation is increasingly being used as a tool to hold companies and governments to account over their contributions to climate change.  According to the Grantham Institute’s 2021 Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation Policy Report (the “Report”), the number of climate-related cases has more than doubled since 2015: between 1986 and 2014, approximately

Emissions reporting standards and practices in the private equity sector have been described by certain commentators as being some way behind those in the public markets; certainly the private equity asset class has, so far, received less attention in the context of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-related reporting developments more generally.  That is changing, however; General Partners (“GPs“) are increasingly called upon to disclose climate-related data and establish greenhouse gas (“GHG“) emissions reduction targets across their portfolios.

There is not, at present, an agreed standard for reporting such information at a fund level, which has resulted in inconsistent approaches being adopted by different funds.  Inconsistencies, of course, potentially impair the ability of investors to make meaningful comparisons between portfolio companies, and indeed between funds.

In an attempt to address this inconsistency, the Initiative Climat International (“ICI“) — a practitioner-led group of private equity funds and investors that represents over USD $3 trillion in assets under management — in partnership with sustainability consultancy group Environmental Resources Management (“ERM“), have taken the proactive step of launching a new, non-binding standard that sets out a consistent approach to GHG disclosure across the private equity sector.  The standard, outlined in the ICI and ERM’s Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting report (the “Report”), aims to better align the disclosure practices of private equity funds with the practices currently adopted by many listed companies in the public markets.

Continue Reading New standard published for Greenhouse Gas Emissions reporting in Private Equity