Sustainability and ESG

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A sustainable business delivers more than profits. It also seeks to make a positive impact on society and the environment.

Business leaders face ever increasing pressure to ensure their organisations are resilient and best able to address environmental and social challenges – balancing purpose and profit. 

As leaders grapple with the pace and disruption of the ‘new normal’ there is greater visibility of environmental, social and governance (ESG) focused initiatives. These initiatives present financial, legal, political, and reputational risks as companies and their directors are held to commitments beyond those dictated by law.

Our Sustainability practice helps organisations navigate the legal, business and political ramifications of developing and implementing initiatives to achieve ESG and sustainable outcomes. 

We advise public and private sector clients, including Ports of Auckland, major banks, government ministries, and a wide range of energy companies. Our expertise includes advising on ESG policy and other initiatives, stakeholder engagement, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, ethics, and regulatory compliance.

Our team is at the forefront of New Zealand’s sustainability journey. We were the first law firm to partner with The Chancery Lane Project to deliver climate conscious contractual clauses to help flight climate change.  We helped establish Toitū Tahua - Centre for Sustainable Finance. Partner Lloyd Kavanagh is a member of Toitu Tahua’s Investment Group and Financial Services Council’s Sustainable Investment Working Group. Many of our team have governance experience and appreciate first-hand the unique challenges and opportunities sustainability and ESG initiatives bring.  

Our team takes a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainability-related risk management that includes commercial, environmental, tax, insurance, banking and financial services, and litigation lawyers.

We can help with:
  • Sustainability focused projects
  • Audits, investigations and regulatory reporting into ESG practices and commitments
  • ESG policy and other initiatives 
  • Climate change considerations
  • Environment and planning
  • ESG due diligence
  • Evolving disclosure standards and third-party reporting frameworks
  • Governance advice across all sectors
  • Human rights and employment issues, including modern slavery
  • Stakeholder analysis and engagement
  • Sustainable finance (including green bonds, green loans and social loans)
  • Sustainable leases.


[These] lawyers are experienced in their field of expertise. [They] were quick to get a strong understanding of our business and how we operate. They care about our business and our people on the ground. Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022


Recent highlights
Governance, reputational and litigation risk in Environmental and Social Policy 

Advising a major New Zealand financial institution on the corporate governance and disclosure risk inherent in the commitments made in its proposed Environmental and Social Policy.  Advice included the adequacy of processes to manage that risk, including potential ‘greenwashing’ claims by regulators or activists if representations are unsubstantiated or insufficiently supported by internal processes and procedures.

Protecting against greenwashing 

Advising a fund manager on the FMA’s Disclosure framework for integrated financial products’ guidance, which relates to financial products that incorporate non-financial factors, such as ‘green’ bonds and ‘socially responsible’ managed funds. Advising on responses to the FMA’s Focused Thematic Review on compliance with that guidance

Directors’ duties and ESG performance 

Advising B Lab (a global network creating social and environmental performance standards, policies, and tools for business) on director duties and liabilities for purpose-led companies in New Zealand.
Supporting Ports of Auckland’s sustainability goals 

Assisting Ports of Auckland with its vision to become a leading sustainable port at the global level – socially, economically, and environmentally.  Advising on POAL’s engagement with Māori, the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and how these may be affected by upcoming reforms.

Sustainability linked loan financings 

Acting for Westpac New Zealand on the provision of a $70 million sustainability linked loan provided to The Warehouse Group, including drafting and negotiating the bespoke bilateral facility agreement.

New Zealand’s first ESG Public Private Partnership

Advising a syndicate of banks on all aspects of the refinancing (incorporating scope for the provision of additional financing for school expansions) in relation to New Zealand Schools PPP 3, which manages five NZ schools.  This transaction was the first New Zealand PPP to introduce sustainability requirements and impact reporting metrics.

Tāmata Hauhā 

Assisting Tāmata Hauhā with its initiative to utilise carbon and the Emissions Trading Scheme to create cash flow and capital to enable Māori landowners to develop and diversify their whenua into profitable forests. We are also acting for Tāmata Hauhā to design an ESG bond to scale up the initiative. 


Related expertise

Our lawyers provide clients with clear, strategic and commercial solutions that create lasting impacts to their business