Global law firm Shearman & Sterling has won an award for Innovation in Sustainability for Clients at the FT Innovative Lawyers North America 2022 awards ceremony, held on 5 December in New York.

The awards celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of law firms and clients, in-house legal teams and legal service providers that promote innovation within the sector. Winners were recognised for their work on pioneering projects and initiatives across a range of markets and disciplines.

Shearman & Sterling received the accolade for its work advising global environmental group The Nature Conservancy in helping negotiate a "debt-for-nature swap" between Belize and its creditors. As highlighted by the FT: "The deal restructured Belize's $553mn distressed sovereign debt and secured payments for future marine conservation. The refinancing involved writing down Belize's sovereign debt by $250mn and directed $4mn a year to the funding of sea protection over the next two decades. The model is being copied in a deal with Barbados that re-engineers part of its sovereign debt to support ocean protection." The Shearman & Sterling team was led by of counsel Antonia Stolper and partner Cynthia Urda Kassis, who worked closely alongside partners Bjorn Bjerke, Kristen Garry, Manuel A. Orillac, Christopher M. Ryan, Philip Urofsky, Michael D. Saarinen and Augusto Ruiloba.

Commenting, of counsel Antonia Stolper said: "I am incredibly proud of this achievement. This was a truly ground-breaking and historic deal and the world's largest debt refinancing deal for ocean conservation."

Partner Cynthia Urda Kassis added: "The environmental, social, and financial impacts and benefits of this highly innovative transaction are far-reaching. We are immensely proud to have played a key role in what will inevitably serve as a model for similar conservation-related deals in the future."

This year, Shearman & Sterling was also shortlisted in the Innovation in New Services category for the Legal Operations by Shearman new offering, led by Anthony Widdop, Global Director of Legal Operations, alongside Meredith Williams-Range, Chief Knowledge & Client Value Officer, and Lawrence Baxter, Chief Technology Officer.

The win follows Shearman & Sterling's success at last year's FT Innovative Lawyers North America 2021 awards, where the firm was selected as the winner in the Innovation in Data Analytics category for developing and implementing Shearman Analytics, a comprehensive master data management program.

Shearman & Sterling was awarded in the Sustainability category alongside Ropes & Gray.