The world is rapidly changing. Issues like climate change, human rights and corporate governance will form the core of each of our client’s corporate strategy and addressing the legal risks and opportunities are fundamental to their success.

Today, we are at a transitional point. General prosperity is increasingly possible only alongside environmental and human rights safeguards. Customers, employees, suppliers, investors and communities must be joint collaborators in enterprises that serve to protect our wellbeing and dignity for the long-term.

Achieving these lofty aims will require a range of stakeholders to join forces to tackle some difficult problems. Building this sustainable future will also require substantial investment. A law firm’s role must expand to not only accurately advise on the current state of play but anticipate the inevitable amendments and rules required by lawmakers and regulators to meet society’s shifting demands. 

Advising clients through rapidly evolving economic transformations is part of the DNA of Freshfields.  We see sustainability as the latest and largest of these upheavals, and we want our clients to be prepared for the future such that all their stakeholders are aligned to minimise risk and seize new opportunities.

Drawing on experience throughout our network, we are also developing thought leadership on cutting-edge sustainability issues to inspire and encourage collaborations with our clients and civil society. 

Alongside human rights, going forward, we will now be sharing developments and insights on this blog across key sustainability issues such as climate change, sustainable finance and corporate governance—drawing on thinking from our transactional, dispute and regulatory experts across the Americas, Europe and Asia.

About Freshfields Sustainability Practice 

While there has been a lot of recent attention on sustainability, we were one of the first movers: in 2005 we wrote the so-called ‘Freshfields Report’ (A legal framework for the integration of environmental, social and governance issues into institutional investment), which highlighted the importance of asset owners taking into account material ESG factors in their investment decisions.   We also have just been appointed by the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEPFI) and The Generation Foundation to conduct a multi-jurisdictional follow-up study on the laws and regulations that restrain or encourage a more active role by asset owners in managing their investments for social impact.

We have been active with our clients on high-profile ESG matters, including advising the EU’s High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, advising on the Tiwi-Makban geothermal power plant, Asia’s first certified climate bond, and supporting RWE on its landmark €38bn transaction with E.ON to become a leading European renewable energy producer.

But we recognise that the most challenging sustainability issues require cross-sector solutions. That’s why we are working with knowledgeable and influential stakeholders to identify novel solutions. And few projects could be as daunting or as promising as the New York Circular Cities Initiative, which launches 17 March 2020. Freshfields is the lead convener for a collaboration between the City, leading businesses, financial institutions, and thought leaders that will set out the concrete measures to transition New York to a circular city, focusing on new jobs and sustainable economic growth.

The New York Circular Cities Initiative is just one example of how we helping realise a sustainable future, advising across climate change, human rights, sustainable finance and corporate governance.

You can find out more about our services on our sustainability practice homepage. This area offers blogs on our sustainability-related thinking.