You are our partner in Sustainability. Can you tell us about who you are and what you do at Clifford Chance?
My name is Jeroen Ouwehand, and I am the Global Senior Partner at Clifford Chance. After being elected by our global partnership, I commenced in this role in 2019. I chair our firm's Partnership Council as well as other bodies in our firm, including the ESG Board, which focuses on how we as a firm can assist our clients across all aspects of the E, S and the G and our Responsible Business Board, which oversees what we do as an organisation ourselves to be a responsible business across four key pillars: Doing Business, People, Community and the Environment.
You are a clear Frontrunner in Sustainability. How important is pushing the sustainability agenda for you?
Sustainability is important to both Clifford Chance and to me personally. The fifth pillar of our firm's Code of Conduct is to act responsibly and actively contribute to beneficially serve the wider communities. To me, part of acting responsibly is not only looking to minimise our negative impact on the environment as a business and as individuals but also encouraging and enabling environmentally sustainable practices by others as well. As a result, we work closely with clients in a range of areas to promote more sustainable practices, including, for example, the development of innovative green financing solutions and assisting companies as they transition their businesses towards more renewable energy industries.
What do you think of the NBCC Green Coach Programme, and why should companies be coached?
I think the NBCC Green Coach programme is a great initiative aimed at unlocking the sustainability expertise and experience from within the NBCC membership to help NBCC members develop more sustainable practices within their own organisations. None of us has a monopoly on good ideas, and I think there is a lot that we as organisations can learn from each other. I am proud that Clifford Chance will be one of the NBCC Green Coaches along with AON, Unilever, PwC, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, and many more.
The coaching programme should enable us to learn from each other, which is important because developing more sustainable practices is not only the right thing to do as a responsible business, but it is also important for the bottom line, both today and, more importantly, in the future. As successful businesses, we must continue to grow and innovate, and the development of more sustainable practices is a key part of being able to do just that.
As one of our Green Coaches, you will be coaching smaller law firms on Client Matter Policy. Can you tell us more about this topic?
As a firm, we have developed a policy to help assess climate change impacts in our matter acceptance process. The policy provides a framework which helps us consider the potential climate change impacts as well as the types of mitigating factors that might be relevant to the matters which we take on. Our climate change policy continues to evolve, and there have been lots of learnings. Sharing our experience with the policy so far should, I hope, be of assistance to other law firms when considering how they wish to assess and take into account the climate change impacts of the work that they do.
Can you tell us about what are the expectations for COP27?
We expect that there will be a focus on resilience at COP27 – this means adaptation and mitigation finance in particular:
(i) a focus on the social impact of climate and biodiversity loss/damage;
(ii) further discussion on the role of private finance in supporting the climate transition; and
(iii) extraction of minerals to facilitate the transition (Transition minerals, e.g. copper).