New Fiduciary Duty In The 21st Century: California Roadmap Paper – Regarding ESG

I have provided below a link to a pdf of a new paper (September 2020) that is written as “the result of a collaboration between the PRI and the Climate Risk Initiative at UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment.” The UNEP Finance Initiative also appears to be an author or sponsor.

The paper and its recommendations are not law. However, the paper is potentially (i.e., appears to be) more than simply discussion when you view the Acknowledgements (page 4) and the Forwards (pages 5-7).

The paper contains 40 recommendations in 7 categories which encourage California to enact legislation and/or regulations that require ESG standards or processes and disclosures for the listed entities and organizations.

I will not be spending much time on this paper for the reason that as a general rule I don’t spend much time on discussion papers that are not proposed or actual legislation, regulations or rules. However, I am mentioning this paper because I am presuming that it was written with at least some buy-in from other people who have the authority to make some or all of the provisions enforceable by law. And I note that at page 26, under the heading “Challenges” with respect to ESG integration, the paper notes “A lack of consistent, comparable, robust, and widely available ESG data . . . ,” and the paper also does contain the 40 specific recommendations many of which relate to statutes (law) or regulations (also law).

One additional comment about the paper and ESG standards, while the paper in part discusses legislation to require and mandate that certain non-governmental businesses implement certain ESG standards and reporting or disclosure, the paper also discussed or provides ESG recommendations for governmental organizations in California – for which I presume that ESG standards and reporting (i.e., standards and reporting for governmental entities and organizations) could be ordered or required immediately or relatively easily right now – thus, one approach would be for governmental entities and organizations to lead the way by example.

The following is a link to the paper:

Best to you. David Tate, Esq.

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Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only

Litigation, Disputes, Mediator & Governance: Business, Trust/Probate, Real Property, Governance, Elder Abuse, Investigations, Other Areas

Blogs: Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com

Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance and governance committee, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, ESG, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Trust, Estate, Probate Court, Elder and Dependent Adult, and Disability Disputes and Litigation

  • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries and families; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business, Business-Related, and Workplace Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; Nonprofit Entities; and Governmental Entities

  • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
  • Misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • M&A disputes.
  • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes.
  • Buy-sell disputes.
  • Funding and share dilution disputes.
  • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages.
  • Insurance coverage and bad faith.
  • Access to corporate and business records disputes.
  • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations, Governance, and Responsibilities and Rights

  • Corporate, business, nonprofit and governmental internal investigations.
  • Board, audit committee, governance committee, and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.; and advising audit committees, governance committees, officers, directors, and boards.

Mediator Services and Dispute Resolution

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New ESG/SDGs Metrics From International Business Council (IBC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF)

The following is a link to a pdf of Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation (a 96 page paper):

The paper, which was published in September 2020, is a project of the International Business Council (IBC) of the World Economic Form (WEF) in collaboration with Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC. I believe that this is the first time that the Big 4 have gotten together in an effort to develop ESG and sustainability standards.

The paper defines the finished project as follows: “This work defines a core set of “stakeholder Capitalism Metrics” (SCM) and disclosures that can be used by IBC members to align their mainstream reporting on performance against environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators and track their contributions towards the SDGs [UN Sustainable Development Goals] on a consistent basis.”

The paper and its ESG metrics are based on four pillars:

Pillar 1: Principles of Governance;

Pillar 2: Planet;

Pillar 3: People; and

Pillar 4: Prosperity.

This paper is a good initial effort to define measurable standards and metrics. In light of the authors and contributors this paper and its further related amendments, tweaks, and discussions will become a direct standard for IBC members, and some parts of it will become indirect or voluntary standards for some other organizations.

Many provisions in the paper are heavily focused on GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) standards. Thus, for example, the paper does not focus on SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) standards. You might also be aware that the SASB and the IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Council) announced on November 25, their intent to merge into a unified organization “in major step towards simplifying the corporate reporting system.” A lot of significant developments and changes are occurring in the ESG and sustainability areas.

As the IBC/Big-4 paper is heavily focused on GRI standards, and UN Sustainable Development Goals, it is or will be relevant or more relevant for US corporations that operate internationally. The extent, if any, to which select provisions in the paper are made applicable to US corporations and/or other organizations what operate solely or primarily domestically in the US is yet to be seen.

Best to you. David Tate, Esq.

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Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only

Litigation, Disputes, Mediator & Governance: Business, Trust/Probate, Real Property, Governance, Elder Abuse, Investigations, Other Areas

Blogs: Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com

Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance and governance committee, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Trust, Estate, Probate Court, Elder and Dependent Adult, and Disability Disputes and Litigation

  • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries and families; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business, Business-Related, and Workplace Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; Nonprofit Entities; and Governmental Entities

  • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
  • Misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • M&A disputes.
  • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes.
  • Buy-sell disputes.
  • Funding and share dilution disputes.
  • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages.
  • Insurance coverage and bad faith.
  • Access to corporate and business records disputes.
  • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations, Governance, and Responsibilities and Rights

  • Corporate, business, nonprofit and governmental internal investigations.
  • Board, audit committee, governance committee, and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.; and advising audit committees, governance committees, officers, directors, and boards.

Mediator Services and Dispute Resolution

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Just a snapshot of the NASDAQ ESG Reporting Guide 2.0 ESG Metrics

Below is a snapshot of the NASDAQ ESG metrics from the May 2019 NASDAQ ESG Reporting Guide 2.0. Pursuant to the Guide, the metrics were significantly developed or decided upon based on existing United Nations ESG materials. Viewing ESG from a worldwide perspective, focusing more significantly on metrics that are contained in United Nations materials could be one reasonable approach. However, from a US listed company perspective, I would have kept some of those metrics, and replaced some with other metrics that are perhaps more pertinent and diverse. As the Guide states, the metrics that NASDAQ selected are not required or mandated metrics.

There is the snapshot:

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Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Thank you for reading this website. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

I am also the Chair of the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Blogs: Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com; Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

The following are copies of the tables of contents of three of the more formal materials that I have written over the years about accounting/auditing, audit committees, and related legal topics – Accounting and Its Legal Implications was my first formal effort, which resulted in a published book that had more of an accounting and auditing focus; Chapter 5A, Audit Committee Functions and Responsibilities, for the California Continuing Education of the Bar has a more legal focus; and the most recent Tate’s Excellent Audit Committee Guide (February 2017) also has a more legal focus:

Accounting and Its Legal Implications

Chapter 5A, Audit Committee Functions and Responsibilities, CEB Advising and Defending Corporate Directors and Officers

Tate’s Excellent Audit Committee Guide

The following are other summary materials that you might find useful:

OVERVIEW OF A RISK MANAGEMENT PROCESS THAT YOU CAN USE 03162018

Audit Committee 5 Lines of Success, Diligence, and Defense - David Tate, Esq, 05052018

COSO Enterprise Risk Management Framework ERM Components and Principles

From a prior blog post which you can find at https://wp.me/p75iWX-dk if the below scan is too difficult to read:

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