ESG (Environmental, social and governance)

The IBA’s ESG page was established in 2023. Here, you will find links to reports, guides, articles, podcasts, webinars, films and more on environment, social and governance (ESG) and related areas from across the IBA. You may wish to use the general IBA website ‘search’ function above to help you find additional ESG-related content.

ESG in Latin America

The Securities Law Committee has produced a video analysing the state of affairs for ESG standards in Latin America.

ESG and dispute resolution

This report considers the role arbitration might play in resolving contractual ESG disputes.

ESG and capital markets

Report from the Capital Markets Forum and Securities Law Committee provides an overview of how countries regulate ESG disclosures.

The rise of ESG

In this webinar, our panellists discuss the increasing pervasiveness of ESG norms in legal practice and why lawyers need to take this seriously.

Message from IBA President Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama

'I am pleased to announce the launch of this ESG hub page, designed to be a resource for IBA members and the broader legal community. This is a first step in the context of the IBA plans regarding the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) movement, which is one of the five presidential priorities for the term 2023-2024.

Whilst being aware of the growing politicisation of ESG factors as well as the fact that the ESG movement has detractors, on balance I firmly believe ESG is a force for good for the global community and the rule of law. ESG has the capacity to make us improve the way we as lawyers run our law firms and in-house departments. Of course, it has that same capacity with respect to the communities we serve, and how they carry out their respective missions. Clients demand alignment from us as their service providers also at the ESG front. I would argue we are already reaping some of the rewards of the still nascent ESG movement'.

'ESG is a rapidly evolving field. Predictably, ESG lacks some coherence at the moment, with people's understanding of what it encompasses differing widely. I am promoting the IBA to provide thought legal leadership on ESG, helping to shape the direction it takes. To do that, we need to learn from the scores of ESG proponents in the legal, business, and academic worlds, but also listen carefully to those expressing concerns about directions it is taking. ESG will be strengthened, not weakened, by respectful dialogue.

The IBA is all about promoting the exchange of knowledge and experiences with the aim of finding solutions to ongoing common challenges. ESG is one of today's challenges. As the legal profession moves towards incorporating sustainability in all sectors and specialities, collegiality and shared experiences are needed. That requires significant learning and greater reflection.

This ESG hub page will be regularly updated so that it may fulfil its aim of assisting you in navigating the implications of ESG in the future of our profession and in the understanding of how to meet the needs of our clients.

It is our hope that you may find this new hub not only a useful tool for yourself but also as a further move towards our goal of making the IBA an even greater forum for our members and the entire legal profession'.

IBA ESG Conference 2024: the role of lawyers today and in the future

In February 2024, the IBA North American Regional Forum and the Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law Section (SEERIL) convened the IBA’s second ESG Conference at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, New York. The conference featured expert panellists from across private practice, civil society, academia, ratings agencies and multilateral development banks, on topics including:

  • Global ESG trends and hot takes – the Brussels effect, the backlash, the view from Africa and more
  • ESG, politics, noise and business – helping clients to focus on what is important and to ignore the rest
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) – how to help clients manage the ‘S’ in ESG
  • Due diligence and ESG – identifying new requirements and key risks for clients
  • Chief Sustainability Officer/Climate Officer/Chief ESG Officer – what’s the role and what’s the challenge? How are departments organised? What are the hallmarks of effective leadership?

In the May 2024 edition of the Sustainable Law in Action podcast, Sara Carnegie, IBA Legal Projects Director, and barrister Melissa Murphy KC, speak with expert panellists at the IBA’s 2024 ESG Conference about the role of lawyers in the ESG space, and the challenges and opportunities facing businesses and law firms in this evolving and increasingly politicised area.

Learn more about the Conference   Listen to the podcast and download the transcript  

Soundbites from the 2024 IBA ESG Conference

Short on time? Listen to soundbites from our conversations with expert panellists at the 2024 ESG Conference below.

Listen: Sarah Fitts - Seasoned transaction lawyer, with emphasis on energy and infrastructure.

Listen: Christopher Stephens - Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the World Bank Group.

Listen: John Sherman - Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Hoffman Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University and former General Counsel at Shift (until 2023).

Listen: Senator Doug Jones - American attorney and former U.S. senator for Alabama, where he served from 2017 to 2021.

Digital Content



LPD Showcase: Mitigating climate risks

This showcase panel focused on the growing intersection between the climate change and ESG movements.

SPPI Showcase: business and rule of law

This showcase session focused on how UN SDG #16 provides a golden thread that runs through the IBA’s activity.

ESG standards in Latin America

The Securities Law Committee has produced a video analysing the state of affairs for ESG standards in Latin America.

Reports and Resources

Legal Aspects of Climate Change Adaptation

Report on use of ESG contractual obligations and related disputes

The IBA Arbitration Committee's ESG Subcommittee, with the assistance of the IBA Business Human Rights Committee, studied the role of arbitration in resolving contractual ESG disputes. The Subcommittee conducted desk research, surveyed in-house counsel and compliance staff, and held roundtable discussions to understand the use of ESG clauses and the appropriateness of arbitration for dispute resolution.

The report concludes that arbitration is likely to play a role in resolving ESG disputes in business-to-business contracts and investment treaties. Arbitration's consensual nature and its inclusion in many investment treaties make it a suitable forum for addressing ESG concerns. The report also discusses the types of ESG obligations found in contracts and investment treaties and how they may play a role in dispute resolution.

ESG Toolkit report cover

ESG Toolkit for Law Firms

The IBA Law Firm Management Committee has prepared this ESG Toolkit to help members understand the scope and importance of ESG.