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Focus Topics Focus Topics

The future of ESG and the Green Deal

No longer just a "nice to have", strong ESG performance is now business critical.

Investor and consumer expectations are driving the market, as regulatory requirements rise in tandem

The criteria of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) are no longer just a trend – their importance and impact on companies is growing exponentially on a global level.

Reinforced by regulatory trends in the EU, key investors have started to embrace ESG and sustainable investing, moving ESG investing up on the agenda. Therefore, an appropriate ESG strategy and approach may also result in an essential competitive advantage, which is one of the reasons why ESG should be rising to the top of the priority list of every major company.

We see it in our daily work, that the importance of ESG is growing rapidly. On international level, some mergers and acquisitions have already been abandoned due to (high) ESG risks involving one or more of the target businesses. 


- Sarah Wared, Partner

ESG as business critical

Sarah Wared, Florian Kusnier, Christine Siegl and Jana Landhaeusser

Keeping up with (investor) expectations and new regulations - Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria are no longer just a trend – their importance and impact on companies is growing exponentially on a global level. Reinforced by regulatory trends both in Austria and the EU as a whole, key investors have started to fully embrace ESG and sustainable investing. This of course moves ESG compliance up the boardroom agenda.

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ESG reporting provisions are up 74% over four years. There are now nearly 400 reporting provisions in 80 countries.

Source: University of Stellenbosch Business School, GRI, UN, KPMG

Environmental

  • Climate protection
  • Adjustment to climate change
  • Protection of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems
  • Sustainable use and protection of resources
  • Transition to a circular economy

Social

  • Observance of recognised labour law standards
  • Observance of employee safety and health protection
  • Application of the same requirements to entities in the supply chain
  • Appropriate remuneration, fair working conditions, diversity, training and development

Governance

  • Tax honesty
  • Measures for prevention of corruption
  • Sustainability management by the management board
  • Remuneration dependent on sustainable business activities
  • Facilitation of whistle blowing
  • Data protection

ESG, private enforcement and strategic litigation in times of war

Valerie Hohenberg and Theresia Franziska Welser

The war in Ukraine confronts companies with new fundamental questions in the area of ethical corporate governance and integrity. How should existing business relations with Russia be handled? Is doing business with and in Russia still socially acceptable? Is my company still able to act in an ESG-compliant manner?

76% of consumers will not buy products from companies with poor ESG performance, and ESG strategies can affect operating profits by as much as 60%.

Source: PwC and McKinsey

ESG Law 2022 Legal Guide – Austria & Poland

Sarah Wared, Claus Schneider, Marcin Rudnik and Joanna Gasowski

These quick reference country chapters on Austria and Poland provide detailed legal and practical information on ESG Law and implementation.

Is competition law getting greener? Horizontal cooperation and sustainability objectives

This discussion on sustainability and competition law is hosted by Wolf Theiss lawyer Martin Gassler, who is joined by recognised competition law experts Viktoria Robertson and Simon Holmes.

Navigating the complexity of national and EU laws and regulations on corporate sustainability requires talking with the right people.

We offer expertise in the following areas, whether you have established programmes or are just getting started:

  • assistance with non-financial sustainability reporting requirements
  • advising the management and supervisory board as to their respective ESG obligations
  • determining ESG-related risks within the company as well as its value chain by conducting corporate sustainability due diligence
  • support with sustainability risk prevention and risk management
  • assistance in managing ESG-related risks in M&A transactions by considering specific environmental, social and governance aspects within the legal due diligence of the target company as well as by reflecting any existing ESG-related risks in the transaction documents
  • advice and support on all legal aspects and different types of sustainable/ green financing and investments as well as green banking
  • and sustainability in real estate
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Environment, climate change and energy

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As regulatory requirements across industries continue to rise, there is no reason to expect that this trend will change in the mid to long-term

The following areas are often analysed by investors when looking at a company:

  • compliance with environmental laws and regulations
  • the emissions of greenhouse gases
  • the conservation of energy
  • waste treatment
  • water usage
  • sustainability

The multitude of national and European laws as well as the many regulations contained in various different laws makes it increasingly difficult to obtain a clear and comprehensive picture of the legal requirements.

Given the current European and global emphasis on green initiatives and reduction of carbon emissions, the provisions of environmental law play an increasingly important role in corporate acquisitions, as well as in the planning and implementation of energy and infrastructure projects, project development and commercial and industrial plant permitting, and are crucial for the rapid and efficient implementation of projects.

Europe's renewed focus on renewables will only serve to speed up developments that were already in motion

Most recently, the conflict in the Ukraine has underscored the need to swiftly transition Europe away from Russian oil and gas supplies to more secure (and greener) renewables solutions.

Get in touch with our experts

2022 Guide: Generating Electricity from Renewable Sources

Given the current European and global emphasis on green initiatives and reduction of carbon emissions, the laws and regulations governing the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources in the Central, Eastern & Southeastern European region remain of major interest to those companies and individuals who are focused on this dynamic and increasingly important sector.

A long-term strategy is necessary to transition from conventional energy to renewables in order to stimulate economic growth and development. The European Green Deal offers a framework for achieving this over the next decade (2020-2030).

Bryan Jardine, Partner

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Social, employment and diversity

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Sometimes eclipsed by an intense focus on E-environmental, social factors are increasnigly scrutinised by investors and consumers across markets

Social ESG criteria cover a wide range of issues and depend significantly on industry/sector. Effectively identifying and managing relevant social issues in your business requires an initial assessment/mapping followed by clear monitoring and mitigation procedures.

Our clients frequently request support with:

  • health and safety
  • diversity and inclusion
  • HR policies and employment issues
  • supplier monitoring
  • consumer rights
  • and local community engagement.

Speak with our experts to more sustainably manage social issues unique to your business

We support companies to navigate a range of social issues from labour standards, workplace health and safety, employment policies and diversity and inclusion.

Until now, a strong focus was placed on "E", but in the upcoming period we expect to see significant developments in the "S" and "G" areas as well. Not only will companies need to adhere to new compliance requirements, but existing business practices will be fundamentally changed. Business relations will be impacted by the increasing need for transparency in deal-making and the realisation of sustainable corporate governance.


- Dora Gazi Kovacevic, Partner

Unfolding the back-to-office trend and remaining attractive to employees

Hristina Dzhevlekova and Andreea Stan look at how the previous trend towards flexi-work has developed in the “post-Covid environment” and is now turning into a back-to-the-office trend.

Correlation? Business that show high levels of employment satisfaction also have ESG performance scores which are 14% higher than the average globally.

Source: Marsh & McLennan

The first anniversary of home office law in Austria

In the second episode of our Wolf Theiss Arbeitsrecht podcast, our experts Isabel Firneis and Julia Marboe discuss the topic of home office in Austria. It has been one year since the introduction of the legislative package on home office, and with that view our lawyers consider topics such as common practical issues, including the provision of digital work equipment, reimbursement of costs and termination options of the home office agreement.

Learn more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion at Wolf Theiss

award

Best in Austria – European Women in Business Law Awards

2012-2019

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Best in Croatia – European Women in Business Law Awards

2013-2019

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Best in Romania – European Women in Business Law Awards

2014-2016

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Best National Firm – Gender Diversity Initiative Mentorship Programme

2020

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European Firm of the Year – Work-Life Balance

2021

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Governance, Whistleblowing, Data Protection & Anti-corruption

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Governance issues include a broad range of topics that businesses are already familiar with, but the key is effective implementation of policies and procedures

Governance as an ESG criteria includes topics such as: tax honesty, anti-corruption measures, sustainable management by the management board, remuneration based on sustainable business activities, whistle blowing policies and procedures, and data protection compliance.

Our specialists can help you identify and manage risks before they become an issue

  • internal procedures and controls
  • transparency (reporting)
  • possible exposure to corrupt practices
  • executive compensation
  • ethical code / code of conduct
  • possible exposure to political influence
  • tax and structuring issues
  • ESG reporting and management
  • formal policies and systems to manage ESG issues
  • and roles and responsibilities within companies.

An external electronic whistleblowing system has significant advantages over the alternatives

Roland Marko, Gernot Rauter, and Helmut Waitzer

Once companies start exploring options for whistleblowing systems, the best technical solution often becomes quickly apparent.

Compare whistleblowing systems

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Data security is very much related to trust of the solution provider - who is the provider, who operates the solution and also from a GDPR perspective, where does the data reside?

Getting whistleblowing right

Paulina Pomorski, Gernot Rauter and Helmut Waitzer

Insights on how companies can navigate various interests, rules and obligations to develop and implement an effective whistleblowing solution.

International data transfers: EDPB’s final recommendations on ‘supplementary measures’

The new guidelines favour a risk-based approach allowing for a more in-depth review of each type of data transfer. In addition to local laws in the third countries, data exporters must also consider local practices. Such analysis may also indicate that certain “problematic” laws are not applied in practice and thus favour a data transfer.

An integrated approach requires bringing the various spokes of your organisation together to systematically address ESG issues across the board.

Legal insights on corporate governance

Topical developments in corporate governance in three key CEE/SEE jurisdictions, including expectations in each country regarding ESG- and sustainability-related reporting and transparency.

Get in touch with our experts for support with corporate sustainability

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Focus: Banking and finance

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When it comes to sustainable finance, staying current with new regulations is critical

The EU has been at the forefront of the focus on sustainable finance, planning a series of reforms, including a classification system for green corporate activities, and the new rules for the investment industry - the sustainable finance disclosure regulations.

Sustainable Private Finance under the European Green Deal

In this video, financial specialists Klemen Radosavljević and Neja Nastran discuss current developments in sustainable private finance, requirements and opportunities for respective stakeholders under the applicable legal framework.

The outlook on sustainable bonds issuance in the context of the Green Deal

This overview of sustainable bonds lays out the basics, looks at their issuance outlook, discusses the impact on the new Taxonomy Regulation on Green Bonds and more.

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Focus: Real estate

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ESG is the new value driver in the real estate sector. It is a major factor when it comes to investments and financing. The complexity of the new regulations go hand in hand with the digitalisation of the real estate business.

Birgit Kraml, Partner & Certified Expert in Sustainable Construction with a DGNB certificate
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Re-purposing real estate: adding value to your property

The effects of the pandemic have impacted the investment profile of real estate remarkably, stimulating and accelerating developments that few had anticipated would happen so quickly.

Sustainability factors in real estate

Environmental

  • Reduction of land sealing, energy and resource requirements
  • Use of reusable materials (cradle to cradle)
  • Construction
  • Deconstruction and disposal concept
  • Possibility of repurposing

Social

  • Lifecycle costs
  • Reduction of maintenance costs
  • Reduction of vacancy
  • Value retention
  • Optimisation of operating costs
  • Rent optimisation

Governance

  • Living comfort
  • Barrier-free
  • Gentrification
  • Diverse use
  • Compliance with social standards during construction

Our specialists can assist you wherever you need support with corporate sustainability

In the fast evolving, complex area of corporate sustainability, which is governed by multiple national as well as European regulations and recommendations, we are able to assist you with the necessary knowledge and expertise in all relevant legal areas.

We follow the national and international developments closely and are prepared to assist you with all occurring corporate and M&A transaction matters as well as banking and finance, real estate, energy and regulatory issues related to ESG criteria and corporate sustainability.

Speak with our experts