Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG)

What We Do

As experienced practitioners advising clients on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters related specifically to cultural heritage and indigenous peoples, our attorneys work with investors, financial institutions, and companies. We conduct due diligence, assess project risk, and improve internal governance to reduce the impact of infrastructure and other projects on indigenous people and cultural heritage worldwide. 

Due Diligence

We assist investors and their legal teams to conduct due diligence for project finance. Due diligence is important for analyzing all aspects of a project, providing funders with a strong sense of barriers to success and pathways to improvement. Investors can then make informed decisions about supporting projects—and under what terms they will provide that support.

Risk Assessment

We help clients assess risks in their portfolio from poor engagement with indigenous people and adverse heritage impacts, and we develop strategies for managing those risks. Anticipating risk in these areas protects projects from permitting delays, litigation, reputational damage, and conflict with local stakeholders. 

Improve Corporate Practices and Governance

We develop policies, provide training, and draft reporting language consistent with the Equator Principles, the IFC Standards, the Sustainable Development Goals, and other investor requirements. We verify compliance across departments and project teams, ensuring companies follow through on their stated commitments to voluntary sustainability and human rights frameworks. We also assist companies and investors in further defining healthy industry practices, enabling them to stand out against their peers in the market.

Why ESG Is Important

ESG metrics have become mainstream for investors looking not only to adhere to certain principles but also to verify a company’s strength in governance and sustainable practices. ESG standards, when adopted, do more than signal a company’s virtue. They indicate long-term profit and success. Without upholding cultural heritage rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, projects will run into repeated challenges, including litigation, protest, and resistance from activist investors. Even credit rating agencies are incorporating ESG scores into their credit assessments. ESG standards are creating a shared framework for building healthy, sustainable corporations and end-to-end compliance on projects meant to benefit communities.

Learn more about ESG.

Notable Engagements

  • For project finance banks we advise on engagement with indigenous people to protect human rights and de-risk investments.
  • We helped develop a multi-stakeholder initiative to identify best practices for due diligence on shale gas projects.


Please contact our team leader: Marion Werkheiser.