Satyam Khanna Named SEC’s First Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG
On Monday, the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee announced that Satyam Khanna was named senior policy advisor for climate and ESG at the SEC — a new position that addresses climate and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. In this role, Khanna will advise the SEC on ESG issues, review the agency’s regulations, and “advance related new initiatives across its offices and divisions.”
Khanna’s acceptance of this new role will mark his return to the SEC, where he was formerly counsel for ex-SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson Jr. He also served on the agency’s Investor-as-Owner Subcommittee of the Investor Advisory Committee.
The SEC’s decision to appoint Khanna as senior policy advisor comes in response to a rising nationwide emphasis on ESG principles. These principles have also become increasingly important in the context of private equity transactions. Investors in private equity funds have begun to demand that investee funds take ESG considerations into account. On May 14, 2020, the Investor-as-Owner Subcommittee of the SEC Investor Advisory Committee submitted a recommendation that the SEC address the issue of ESG disclosure. In turn, the SEC has given greater attention to diversity and climate risk disclosures.
During her announcement of Khanna’s new role, Acting Chair Lee noted that climate risk and other ESG matters are “issues of great significance to investors and the capital markets.” The SEC’s efforts to address climate as a systemic risk is a culmination of the multiyear advancement of ESG into the collective investor consciousness. Khanna’s assumption of this position is a critical step toward SEC-regulated climate risk disclosure.