Is Sustainable Finance nothing more than “Woke Capitalism”? – Law School: Events Is Sustainable Finance nothing more than “Woke Capitalism”? – Law School: Events

Is Sustainable Finance nothing more than “Woke Capitalism”?

Is Sustainable Finance nothing more than “Woke Capitalism”?

In-person event

Investor and regulator concerns about companies’ mismanagement of climate and nature risks are now a prominent feature of the economic and legal landscape. Companies have been increasingly committing themselves to an ESG agenda – making commitments on environment, social and governance factors. In the United States, investors and regulators are being accused of prioritising a ‘woke’ agenda over shareholder returns. This backlash is resulting in legislation, anti-trust litigation, threatening letters to law firms, and institutional investors withdrawing from their climate alliances and pledges.

By contrast, Europe is embracing the ESG transition and consequent disruption. Examples include: regulation; climate litigation; corporate commitments to NetZero and protecting nature; and overseas development finance. Financial markets are developing novel sustainable products.

In this seminar, the presenters debunk the assertions of the anti-ESG movement. They argue that proper management of nature and climate risks is critical to market stability (from a regulator’s lens) and the preservation of shareholder value (from an investor’s lens), and that regulators and third parties are therefore justified in using legal avenues to enforce this management.


Introduction (Professor Rosemary Lyster, Professor of Climate and Environmental Law)

Woke capitalism and the anti-ESG backlash in the United States (Ms Zoe Bush, Environmental Defenders Office)

The EU embraces the ESG agenda (Mr Jan de Vries Robbe, Manager of Legal Affairs and Compliance at the Dutch Development Bank FMO)

About the speakers

Chair: Professor Rosemary Lyster, Professor of Climate and Environmental Law

Zoe Bush

Zoe is a senior solicitor in the Environmental Defenders Office’s Safe Climate (Corporate) and an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Western Australia Law School. She holds a Master of Laws from Columbia University, from which she graduated Best in Class for Climate Change Law and Policy. Zoe started her career as an Associate at the Federal Court of Australia, before joining the State Solicitor’s Office of WA. In 2019, she was awarded WA Junior Woman Lawyer of the Year.

Jan de Vries Robbe

Jan Job (JJ) de Vries Robbé is Senior Counsel at the Dutch Development Bank FMO. He has extensive experience in international finance, obtained in both private practice and in-house roles in Australia and the Netherlands. Whilst originally specialising in structured finance (the ‘dark side’), he moved to international development finance in 2005 (sustainable finance ‘avant la lettre’) working across the asset classes. JJ’s focus is on impact investing, sustainable finance and climate / human rights litigation. He has been teaching at Sydney Law School as an international visitor for more than 15 years.


Monday 22 May, 2023

Time: 6-7pm

Venue: Common Room, Level 4, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown campus

CPD Points: 1


This event is proudly co-presented by the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law and the Ross Parsons Centre at Sydney Law School.


May 22 2023


6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

More Info

Register here


Common Room, Level 4, Sydney Law School
New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney (Camperdown Campus)


Professional Learning & Community Engagement
02 9351 0248

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