Blog post 05 - Regulatory Compliance - Sustainability Risks


By Eva Grønbjerg Christensen

July 2023


What to look for as a sustainable investor?

I suggest you start by looking at some Sustainability Risks for companies - this blog post is about one of these risks; Regulatory Compliance and how it can be used for us sustainable investors.

One of the key aspects of sustainability risk for companies is regulatory compliance - especially when new regulation is being rolled-out like we see at the moment. This refers to the need for companies to adhere to various laws and regulations related to environmental protection, human rights, labor standards, and corporate governance. These may differ across different countries, regions or industries and may change over time. Non-compliance can result in serious consequences, such as fines, penalties, lawsuits, reputational damage, and loss of market access.

Therefore, it is important for companies to monitor and manage their regulatory compliance risk. Some of the way to mitigate the regulatory risks are:

- Conducting regular assessments of the legal and regulatory environment in the countries and regions where they operate or source from.

- Developing and implementing policies and procedures that align with the relevant laws and regulations, as well as with the best practices and standards in their industry.

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- Providing training and awareness programs for their employees, suppliers, and partners on the importance of compliance and the potential risks of non-compliance.

- Establishing mechanisms for reporting, investigating, and resolving any compliance issues or incidents that may arise.

- Engaging with stakeholders, such as regulators, customers, investors, and civil society organizations, to communicate their compliance efforts and performance, and to address any concerns or feedback.

By doing so, companies can not only reduce their sustainability risk, but also enhance their reputation, competitiveness, and value creation. As a sustainable investor we can check to see if these steps are put into place and reported on in annual reports.

We also have to see regulatory compliance is a key factor that affects the sustainability performance of companies. It refers to the extent to which companies adhere to the laws and regulations that govern their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. Regulatory compliance can have both positive and negative impacts on the sustainability risk and return of companies and their investors.

On the one hand, regulatory compliance can reduce the sustainability risk of companies by ensuring that they meet the minimum standards of ESG performance and avoid fines, penalties, lawsuits, or reputational damage. Regulatory compliance can also create opportunities for companies to gain competitive advantages, access new markets, attract customers and investors, and enhance their brand value by demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.

On the other hand, regulatory compliance can increase the sustainability risk of companies by imposing additional costs, constraints and uncertainties on their operations and strategies. Regulatory compliance can also create challenges for companies to adapt to the changing and complex regulatory landscape, especially in different authorities and sectors. Regulatory compliance can also expose companies to the risk of regulatory capture, where they influence or manipulate the regulators to serve their own interests rather than the public good.

Therefore, regulatory compliance is a double-edged sword that can affect the sustainability risk and return of companies and their investors in different ways. As sustainable investors, we need to assess how well companies manage their regulatory compliance and how they leverage it to create value for themselves and their stakeholders. We also need to monitor the regulatory developments and trends that may affect the ESG performance and prospects of companies in our portfolio. By doing so, we can identify and seize the opportunities and mitigate the risks that regulatory compliance brings to our sustainable investing goals.

Wishing you happy de-risked investing!


June 2023



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