Managing Partner, Belgium
The growing relevance of ESG in Belgium
ESG is becoming more important in Belgium. Access to capital is increasingly conditional on ESG compliance, so there is a real interest in knowing how to be compliant
and how to satisfy foreign investors on sustainability issues.
There are other economic incentives, such as bringing down energy costs, attracting and retaining talented people and avoiding 'green claims' by customers or investors who feel they have been misled about organisations' ESG credentials.
There is also regulatory pressure on both Belgian and EU businesses, who are facing more ESG reporting obligations to show what they're doing to minimise their impact on the environment, how they are contributing positively to society and what they are doing from a governance point of view.
This is not just "soft" regulatory pressure, but legal obligations with increasingly severe penalties for non-compliance. In this context, our clients want to know their legal advisers are doing their bit on ESG.
And at the same time as external pressure on us is growing – particularly from international clients – there is also a real drive for constant ESG improvement from within our firm.
We are acutely aware that we can always do more, and our people are pushing us to make sure we take advantage of every opportunity to make a positive difference.
We have made several operational changes to ensure our office is run in a sustainable way. For instance, for our 2023 partner retreat in Marseilles, we decided we would all take the train, rather than fly – this sounds like a small thing, but I think it was important because everybody was happy with that way of travelling.
Our client ESG activities are led by Regulatory Partners Peter Sellar and Gerard McElwee, Corporate Partner Lars Raedschelders, and Energy Partner Wouter Vandorpe.
I am very proud of our
to ESG, which is
by our Head of
People, Serena Swint.
We are now looking at developing a formal travel policy that emphasises necessary travel only and incentivises using greener forms of transport. We are also focusing on governance by structuring the office in a more collaborative way and ensuring our people have a say in key decisions.
ESG Report 2023