Climate change is one of the most prominent threats to society, the environment, as well as our economies and the viability of businesses. 

According to the World Economic Forum,  extreme weather conditions and climate action were listed as two of the “Top Five Global Risks in terms of likelihood” for 2020 to cost the global economy some $43 trillion by 2100. 

While there is widespread knowledge about climate change and its anticipated impacts on people, countries, and businesses, relatively little is known about how to integrate climate change risks and opportunities into governance structures.

The CSIA collaborated with PwC South Africa to distribute an electronic survey to members and stakeholders from June to August 2020 to determine the role of the Corporate Secretary in influencing climate change initiatives in organisations. The research from this survey is meant to complement existing knowledge by focusing specifically on the role of the Corporate/Company Secretary.


CSIA Climate Change Survey

Responses were obtained from 584 participants in 21 countries, of which China, India, Nigeria and South Africa had the highest level of participation.

The survey provided insights into aspects such as:

  •      the role of the corporate secretary in guiding corporate governance practices that address climate change
  •      the regulatory environments across CSIA member jurisdictions and the extent to which organisations have adopted climate change initiatives
  •      future plans to drive climate change risks and opportunities.

Half of the respondents were Corporate Secretaries and represented over 30 different industries. The report provides a look into organisations’ views of climate change from the perspective of Corporate Secretaries as well as other roles in the organisation.

Corporate Secretaries need to put climate change on the Board’s agenda

The survey results clearly  indicated that risks and opportunities driven by climate change are influencing business decisions. These decisions are becoming increasingly linked to effective climate governance and as the custodian of governance, Corporate Secretaries have to provide practical and effective guidance to assist Boards in managing this complex and challenging phenomenon. 

Corporate Secretaries need to create an environment for effective climate governance by helping Boards to understand their role in addressing climate change risks and opportunities, increasing climate awareness as well as ensuring responsible reporting on climate change governance. 

As the expectation from investors, regulators and other stakeholders increasingly focuses on a more integrated and strategic approach to climate change that will inform decisions to ensure the sustainability of organisations, the role of the Corporate Secretary in governing climate change has never been more important. This survey report aims to highlight the role that the Corporate Secretaries should play in influencing and guiding the Board to integrate climate considerations into the governance structures and processes and driving climate change initiatives.

Click Here to register for our climate change webinar on Thursday, 6 May 2021 from 9am – 10.30pm (GMT+2)



Corporate Secretaries International Association Limited (CSIA) was established in Geneva in 2010 as an association constituted according to article 60 et seq, of the Swiss Civil Code and entered into the commercial register in Switzerland and was relocated and registered as a company limited by guarantee in Hong Kong in 2017.

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