Published on 13 Sep 2023

Corporate and Directors’ Accountability in Addressing Climate Change and the Right to a Healthy Environment

A collaborative research initiative by Nanyang Business School and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute(RWI)

The Division of Business Law, Nanyang Business School (NBS), in collaboration with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, launched a report titled "Shareholder Litigation in Response to the Climate Emergency and the Right to a Healthy Environment in the Asia-Pacific” on 29th August at the Concorde Hotel Singapore. This research delved into the intricate role that shareholders play in shaping internal corporate policies concerning climate change and environmental responsibility.

The report, co-authored by NBS faculty members Asst Prof Althaf Marsoof, A/P Anil Samtani, and Asst Prof Alan Koh, provided an analysis of the potential for shareholder litigation across five key Asia-Pacific jurisdictions: India, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia. A noteworthy finding of the study was that climate-related shareholder lawsuits were predominantly concentrated in Australia within the Asia-Pacific region.

The speakers at the 29 August event discussed shareholder litigation and climate change

Key Recommendations
This report's recommendations emphasised two critical points. First, it stressed the importance of corporate transparency, particularly in reporting environmental risks and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. Second, the report highlighted the need to enhance shareholders' awareness of their rights and responsibilities in holding corporate directors accountable for environmental harms.

This research is a significant step toward understanding the evolving dynamics of corporate responsibility in the face of the climate emergency in the Asia-Pacific region and underscores the critical role shareholders play in driving corporate policies towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future.

 Key Speakers
Opening the launch was Ms Jenny Egermark, Chargé d’Affaires from the Embassy of Sweden in Singapore, followed by opening remarks from A/P Prof Victor Yeo, Associate Provost (Student Life), who is also part of the Division of Business Law of NBS, and Dr Jason Squire, Director of RWI Regional Asia-Pacific Office. The speakers amplified the significance of corporate involvement in climate change mitigation and sustainability while also highlighting the interplay between human rights and business. They emphasised how businesses play a crucial role in addressing these global challenges, highlighting the intricate connection between human rights and corporate practices.

At the launch, the co-authors of the report also shared its key findings. Their presentations were followed by an in-depth commentary from two distinguished discussants: Dr Radu Mares, Research Director at RWI, who offered a valuable perspective into recent developments in EU corporate law, including the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, and Elizabeth Wu, a Legal Consultant at ClientEarth, who shared her insights of shareholder engagement initiatives concerning climate change.

The event also featured prominent speakers from key organisations, including a keynote by Kala Anandarajah, Lead Partner, Corporate Governance at Rajah and Tann, and a panel comprising Ms Quak Fi Ling (Wong Partnership); Ms Bong Yap Kim (ACRA); Ms Esther An (City Developments Limited); and Mr Russell Quek (South Pole), and Assoc Prof Joyce Lee Suet Lin (NBS), who engaged in a thought-provoking panel discussion on ESG reporting requirements and compliance in Singapore.

For readers interested in delving into the research findings and recommendations, the full report is accessible via this link.