Globally, there has been a growing paradigm shift as to the importance placed by regulators, businesses and their stakeholders, including customers and investors, on sustainability practices, which encompasses the ESG factors (‘Environment’, ‘Social’, and ‘Governance’). There is increasing recognition that business affects and is affected by sustainability issues, which means that a business’s strategy as to sustainability issues can inspire or discourage confidence and loyalty in its investors and/or customers. Investors are increasingly using sustainability criteria to screen potential investments and/or measure the global impact and sustainability of investment strategies and decisions. Customers, who are becoming increasingly discerning, are also treating sustainability-friendly businesses more seriously.

In line with the global view, the momentum is growing in Singapore. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched the Green Finance Action Plan focusing on green finance and consulting on proposed Guidelines on Environmental Risk Management that will apply to banks, merchant banks and finance companies, insurers, fund management companies and REIT managers, which are intended to set out sound practices in the areas of governance, risk management and disclosure, of environmental risk. 

How will all these affect you as a business, and what do you stand to lose if you do not react and build sensitivity to sustainability issues in your business as soon as possible?  

Navigating such sustainability issues often involve complex regulatory and legal considerations, which involve frameworks at the national or regional level. For example, this may involve ensuring that businesses and organisations comply with the principles of the UN Global Compact, the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards), ISO 26000 or for many financial institutions (FIs) that have signed on to the United Nations' Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) - Principles for Responsible Banking, to align their business strategy for consistency with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and/or the Paris Agreement, amongst others. 

As a further illustration, FIs involved in project finance often adopt the Equator Principles (EPs), which are a risk management framework for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects as a minimum standard for due diligence, monitoring and responsible risk decision-making. Given the complexity of the landscape, practically, there can be real barriers in introducing sustainability into your business frameworks.

How we can help you 

In Rajah & Tann, we are amongst the pioneers in Singapore when it comes to sustainability and ESG issues. On the green and sustainable finance front, our lawyers have worked on transactions covering sectors ranging from real estate and hospitality to energy and agriculture. We have been involved in many "first of its kind" transactions.

With our deep expertise and experience, we can help you unpack and reconcile the different global standards and regulations on ESG factors in green and sustainable finance. We can also advise you on the adaptation of your business to take into account these factors, to facilitate your transition to refreshed modes of operation. We can help you address the commercial aspects and economic objectives of the transactions, and at the same time fulfil the legal and technical requirements set out in the various ESG principles and guidelines.

We are at the forefront of these matters and our Sustainability Practice, which comprises multi-disciplinary specialist teams, covers a full spectrum of ESG issues across the following non-exhaustive areas:

A client-focused approach

Sustainability and ESG considerations are multi-disciplinary and require a holistic view of businesses and their impact.

Being part of a full-service firm with integrated practices means that our clients have access to the experience and skills of all our lawyers across the full spectrum of legal practices. Our Practice works closely with the other lawyers in the firm and the Rajah & Tann Asia network to provide clients with a comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional and quality service.

We are accessible whenever you need us. We work efficiently and deliver value – placing great importance on allocating the right lawyer to the right task to ensure high quality yet cost-effective service.

Do reach out to us to find out more.