Environmental, Social and Governance Symposium, Nov. 3, 2023

GBLI will host three (3) 60-minute panels focused on emerging issues in ESG through the lens of international law, policy, and compliance.

About the Symposium

The intersectionality of Legal, Regulatory, and Compliance with Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) programs is gaining additional momentum around the world.  While we see regulatory convergence in some areas (sustainability), in others, there remains divergent approaches and less clarity around what will remain a norm, standard or framework and what will make its way into law.  In parallel, nationalism and insular government investments are contributing to a rising expectation for corporations to step into the breach.  Corporate consumers, investors, employees, and constituents are calling for corporations to take a stand or maintain a position in programs, initiatives, and mission-centric objectives that bring “for good” changes to our global world.  Meanwhile, opposing voices from these same groups are pushing – or even requiring - corporations to reject or pull away from ESG agendas (for example, several US state bills or laws are proposing anti-ESG measures).

Bringing together experts from around the world, the Global Business Law Institute is pleased to sponsor three interconnected discussions as to how corporations are adapting – and thriving – in this new ESG frontier in Asian-Pacific countries, the European Union, and the United States.

When & Where

November 3, 2023
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Davis Wright Tremaine
920 5th Ave, Seattle, WA

Email gbuslaw@uw.edu to learn more about attending via Zoom.

Agenda

9–9:05 a.m.
Introduction: opening and welcoming statements. Brief presentation of the panel topics.

9:05–10:05 a.m.
Doing Good: Not Just “Smart Business” Anymore – European Union perspective.

Description: Where previously companies embraced issues such as global climate change, responsible supply chain, and exceeding regulatory standards to gain a competitive edge, shareholders now see these as “table-stakes” business imperatives.  And so do global regulators.  The European Commission updated its expectations on human rights and climate, building on the momentum from the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, Taxonomy Regulation and the Low Carbon Benchmarks Regulation (all focused on driving the European Commission’s Action Plan on Sustainable Finance). Business response to the changing ESG regulatory framework and the future of different industries in Europe.

Proposed Panelists

  • Axel Kravatzky, Vice Chair of ISO/TC309 Governance of Organizations, Vice President European Business Chamber, Managing Partner at Syntegra ESG, Switzerland
  • Bartosz Makowicz, Prof. of Law and Director of Viadrina Compliance Center, European University Viadrina, Germany
  • Anita Ramasastry, Henry M. Jackson Prof. of Law and Director, Sustainable Int’l Development Graduate Program, University of Washington

Moderator: Mariola Lisewska, Strategic Advisor, Coopersmith Law + Strategy

10:05–10:10 a.m.
Break

10:10–11:10 a.m.
Regulatory ESG updates in key Asian financial markets and liability concerns for businesses operating in Asia.

Description: Asia accelerated development of ESG related regulations in recent years. Singapore proposed Code of Conduct for Providers of ESG Ratings and ESG Data Products.  South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service issued guidelines to ensure transparency of ESG assessment and certification.  Japan continuously encourages investors to use Green Bonds and works on its Green Transformation (GX) Law.  India updates its Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report scores reporting requirements.  Hong Kong released a prototype of a Green Classification Framework and Mainland China continues a dialogue with European Union regarding Environment and Climate. ESG through industry lens in Asia.

Proposed Panelists:

  • Carolyn Sng, Partner, K&L Gates Hong Kong
  • Eiichiro Adachi, Senior Counselor, The Japan Research Institute, Limited, Japan
  • Mridula Shrestha, Global Corporate Social Responsibility Counsel, TikTok

Moderator: Xuan-Thao Nguyen, Pendleton Miller Chair in Law, Director, Asian Law Center, University of Washington

11:10–11:15 a.m.
Break

11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
A Tale of Two Voices: Rising controversies around ESG strategy in the United States.

Description: The intersectionality of Compliance and Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) programs is gaining additional momentum.  The SEC’s task force on climate and ESG signals its intention to drive accountability throughout public companies for the public statements made in these areas.   SEC proposed rules to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures for Investors.  Department of Justice published a memorandum with a Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy. Although SEC’s efforts have been delayed, the discussion around ESG now appears to be fiercer in light of the upcoming elections.  Some states implemented policies to incentivize sustainable investments, but some states decided to enact anti-ESG bills. To Be or Not to Be? What ESG compliance means for American businesses.

Proposed Panelists:

Moderator: Jon Drimmer, Partner at Paul Hastings, former Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Barrick Gold

12:15–12:30 p.m.
Brief summary. Coffee with panelists and conference participants.