Contemporary Challenges in American & Global Law concluded its winter line-up of events on Wednesday, March 24 with a program entitled, “Sustainable Investment - The New Heart of EU Financial Market Regulation.” Gaspar Kot (LL.M. 2012) who works for UBS—a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company—in Kraków, Poland provided opening remarks on the topic. Chris Concannon ’94, President and Chief Operating Officer of MarketAxess, in New York City, New York, provided comments for the discussion.
To begin, Kot defined sustainable investment and “ESG.” He explained that sustainable investment is an investment in economic activity that contributes to an environmental or social object, and ESG—Environmental, Social, and Governance—are the set of standards of operations used to screen potential sustainable investments. With that framework, Kot provided context for what led to the European Union’s (EU) Commission Act Plan (2018) for financing sustainable growth. Kot delved into some specifics of the EU’s ESG regulatory initiatives—particularly highlighting the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) which went into effect just two weeks ago and noting both direct and indirect impact the SFDR will have on non-EU firms. To comment, Concannon spoke about the international impact of the SFDR. Concannon noted that while this is the EU’s initiative, the impact of the rule extends beyond the EU’s borders and he posited that it will foster a faster pace towards ESG and sustainability globally. Before posing a few questions for Kot, Concannon assured the group that the demand for ESG and sustainable investments is present and growing at an exponential rate.
The program concluded with a Q&A portion moderated by Professor Emerita Leah Wortham, Director of the American Law Program and the LL.M. Program at Catholic Law. Kot and Concannon addressed a number of questions from those in attendance. Questions covered topics including issues regarding lack of common ESG standards, whether or not labor exploitation or human rights are clearly defined by articles in the SFDR, how American lawyers are beginning to think about the ramifications of SRDR, and investor concern for sustainability. Kot emphasized that sustainable investment is the future, and reiterating Concannon’s earlier said, “people are simply interested in investing in things that matter.”
The spring season of this webinar series will begin on Wednesday, April 14. To learn more about upcoming events, click here.
You can view a recording of the webinar below.