The Climate in the Boardroom

April 15, 2024

The Climate in the Boardroom organised by Council for Board Diversity

The urgency of climate change, interest in sustainability disclosures, and emerging regulations call for change to be driven from the top. This was the focus of The Climate in the Boardroom, a compact lunchtime forum hosted by the Council for Board Diversity following Day 1 of Ecosperity Week.

Featuring speakers Loh Boon Chye (Co-chair, Council for Board Diversity and CEO and Board Member, SGX Group), Mindy Lubber (CEO & President, Ceres), and moderator Deborah Ho (Country Head of Singapore and Regional Head of SE Asia, BlackRock), a 30-minute panel discussed practical ways companies can navigate the low carbon transition, deliver long-term value, and stay true to all stakeholders.

Attended by 70 board directors and senior sustainability leaders from across sectors, and even region, The Climate in the Boardroom also offered a good reminder that diversity adds to decision-making and innovative solutions to sustainability challenges.


– Mindy Lubber
CEO & President, Ceres

– Loh Boon Chye
Co-chair, Council for Board Diversity; CEO & Board Director, SGX Group

– Deborah Ho
Country Head of Singapore and Regional Head of SE Asia, BlackRock

The panel illuminated the pressing need for companies to address climate risk comprehensively, including governance structures and challenges within the supply chains. This is an edited excerpt:

Climate Risk: A Present Reality

Mindy Lubber: “I was doing a board training at one of the largest US based global fashion companies, and truly, within two hours of that meeting, they found out 15-20% of their cotton crop had died. That was a 2% share hit, value hit to the bottom line. So these aren’t esoteric, they’re real risks. If you are a company with a supply chain that may face labour or water problems, these issues have to be factored in at the board level because it is enough of a risk.

If doesn’t matter anymore whether you’re in Bangladesh or you’re in Boston, there is almost no sector unharmed by the ravages of climate change and what it can do to your company and supply chain.”

Making the Transition

Loh Boon Chye: “If I look at our listed companies, we have seen tremendous improvement [in climate oversight] from when we first started sustainability reporting seven years back, based on our last study conducted by SGX RegCo and the NUS Business School. You can say that’s expected for some of the high carbon emission sectors, but I think there are still gaps to be closed in sectors like healthcare and utilities.

In my interactions with companies, not just those that are listed, I would call out three areas that are top of mind for many directors when it comes to climate transition and net zero: One, setting a climate agenda and balancing long-term targets with the short-term. Two, concern over greenwashing and the evolving roles of directors. And three, balancing risk with revenue opportunities. 

Climate Action Plan

Mindy Lubber: “It cannot be that only the major cities where corporations are centred are looking at climate risk. We’ve got to look at the whole picture. Overall, our expectations are that management is making sure that they are disclosing the right information on climate risk; I would argue, broadly defined and as far into scope 3 as they can reasonably get. Secondly, that management is putting in place a climate action plan to meet the goals of the Paris Alignment, the goals of the country they’re operating in, and the goals of their company.

We hear a lot of companies say we’re going to get to net zero by 2050, or we’re going to get halfway there by 2030. Words are words, deeds are deeds. We now expect companies to put in place a climate action plan that is about today and tomorrow. It’s about what are your goals for 2025 and 2027 and 2030, and how are you going to meet them? If you don’t start now, it doesn’t happen. The role of the board is to make sure those things are being put into place.”

The Climate in the Boardroom

Mindy Lubber: There needs to be people at the board level who have some expertise. I don’t mean one green board member who has green credentials. The expertise needs to be across the enterprise and across the board. You don’t want to isolate one person. The board needs to be educated. At the board level, there needs to be one or two [with green expertise], and probably one major sustainability goal. I would argue that the CEO’s compensation ought to be tied to that as a key metric. Then the management needs to present to the board how they are meeting those goals – short, medium, and long term – what kind of management systems are put into place, how much disclosure and transparency there is, and what they’re telling their investors.”

Indexes & Climate Reporting Requirements

Loh Boon Chye: “SGX is very involved in working with index providers to come up with benchmarks that incorporate climate considerations for investors. And that can be a boon or a bane for companies. If you are seen to be progressive with carbon and climate transition, you may potentially attract more capital from passive investors. And if you are behind, you could see investors leaving your company. Let’s not forget that one-third of global equity capital markets today are passive capital that tracks indexes and ETFs.

[The challenge companies face in climate reporting] is data availability, and more importantly, how to put those data into a standardised format for comparison. We introduced climate reporting recently based on the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework. And I think for board directors, there is clearly an acceptance globally that the International Sustainability Standards Board Framework will be adopted over time. It may be obviously adjusted to fit each jurisdiction. And I think it’s important to try and understand that and how to implement that.

And we ourselves have also created an online data platform to help our listed companies to populate 27 metrics that investors have told us that this is what they care about and trying to have that compared across international standards so that investors can make informed decisions.”

Board Diversity Enhances Board Strategy and Solutions 

Mindy Lubber: “For a company that is global or small, if their board doesn’t represent the world around them, they are not getting the diversity of thought and leadership that they need. The data is strong that companies that have more diverse boards thrive. Companies with diversity at board level have a deeper breadth of [knowledge] on certain issues. Times are changing quickly, and we’ve seen boards change significantly. I will tell you the pension funds and asset owners that are members of ours, they are looking to see that boards are varied and diverse, and no longer of one mind. That’s their expectation when they meet with portfolio companies these days, whether it’s in the United States or here.”

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Ms Deborah Ho
Country Head of Singapore and Regional Head of SE Asia, BlackRock

Deborah Ho is the Country Head of Singapore and Regional Head of Southeast Asia for BlackRock.

Based in Singapore, Deborah is responsible for a wide-ranging portfolio in markets across South-East Asia. This includes delivering the breadth and depth of BlackRock’s capabilities to clients in the region.

BlackRock is one of the world’s leading providers of investment, advisory and risk management solutions. As of 2023, BlackRock’s assets under management total US$10 trillion across fixed income, cash management, alternative investment, real estate, equities, and advisory strategies.

Deborah is a member of BlackRock’s Asia Pacific Steering and Executive committees. She was the APAC Chair of WIN at BlackRock from 2018-2022 and has had extensive experience at the helm of various women’s and leadership networks in the financial industry in Asia and continues to champion gender equality in the workplace.

Deborah has over 30 years of experience in Investment Banking and Asset Management and is on the committee of the Lee Kuan Yew fund for Bilingualism. She is a Board Member of the Singapore Land Transport Authority and is a trustee on the board of the Singapore Management University.

Deborah is passionate about developing leaders in the financial services industry in Asia. She represents BlackRock on the Financial Centre Advisory Panel of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) which consists of the most senior representatives of the top financial institutions in Singapore. She is co-chair of the Singapore Sustainable Finance Association, an industry group convened by the MAS to accelerate the development of green and transition finance.

Deborah was conferred the 2022 IBF Distinguished Fellow Title, a testament of her contributions to Singapore’s financial sector. She was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the Markets Media Group in 2021 Women in Finance Asia Awards for her contribution to female talent development in the finance industry.

Mindy Lubber

Ms Mindy Lubber
Chief Executive Officer and President, Ceres

Mindy Lubber is the CEO and President of the sustainability nonprofit organisation Ceres. She has been at the helm since 2003, and under her leadership, the organisation and its powerful networks have grown significantly in size and influence.

As a well-known global thought leader, Lubber has inspired capital market leaders to consider all material financial risks and opportunities—including those related to climate change, water scarcity and nature loss—in decision-making. She serves on the Steering Committee of powerful global initiatives including Climate Action 100+, Net Zero Asset Managers initiative and other efforts driving change in capital markets and seeking to achieve the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement.

Mindy is frequently quoted in mainstream business and financial media outlets and pens regular opinion columns for Forbes.com and Reuters.com on a range of sustainability issues. She has also received numerous awards and recognitions for her leadership including the ’Champions of the Earth award, the United Nations highest environmental honor; the Barron’s Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential women in U.S. finance every year since 2020; the Climate Visionary Award from the Earth Day Network, the William K. Reilly Award for Environmental Leadership from American University; the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation; and the Nonprofit Times 2022 Power & Influence Top 50. Under her leadership, Ceres has been repeatedly named a top 100 women-led business in Massachusetts by Globe Magazine.

Prior to Ceres, Lubber served as a Regional Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under former President Bill Clinton. She also founded Green Century Capital Management and served as the director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG).

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Mr Loh Boon Chye
Co-Chair, Council for Board Diversity
Chief Executive Officer and Board Director, SGX Group; and other directorships

Mr Loh Boon Chye joined Singapore Exchange (SGX Group) as CEO on 14 July 2015. He is also an Executive and Non-Independent Director on the SGX Board.

With a career in the financial industry spanning over three decades, Mr Loh has played a key role in the development of Southeast Asia’s capital markets. Prior to SGX Group, he has held several senior positions at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.

Mr Loh currently sits on the Board of GIC Pte Ltd. He is also Chairman of the Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics Advisory Board, Co-Chair of the Council for Board Diversity and Chairman of the World Federation of Exchanges.

Leading SGX Group’s efforts in sustainability and climate action, Mr Loh serves as an independent advisory committee member in the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative, and advisory board member for the Climate Governance Singapore Limited and Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ)’s Asia-Pacific Network. He is also a member of the GFANZ’s CEO Principals Group.

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The Council for Board Diversity (CBD) believes that board diversity catalyses robust governance and responsible stewardship, and is a valuable driver for growth.

Having diversity in the board brings together the diversity of judgement to chart the best course through uncertainty, challenge, opportunities and risks – applicable to both for-profit and non-profit organisations. The mix of knowledge, skills, experience, gender, age and other relevant features is harnessed to devise strategy and manage its execution. Against this backdrop we believe that including women on boards, in particular, adds a powerful lead-in to the other forms of diversity that bring value to the board’s role in the company.

CBD, established by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, endeavours to promote a sustained increase in the number of women on boards of listed companies, statutory boards and non-profit organisations as a stepping stone to broader diversity.