of less risky financial policies. ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance can strengthen the impact of board effectiveness on firm risk as companies are motivated to act in stakeholders’ interests. This research provides empirical evidence on these premises in the Southeast Asian context. This study used 380 observations from 76 non-financial companies in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore for the 2015–2019 period. The data were analysed using the fixed-effects panel data method. The results show that the board effectiveness has a marginally significant effect in reducing company risk. In addition, when the effectiveness of the board interacts with ESG performance, the moderating role of ESG can strengthen its influence in reducing corporate risk. The results have implications for policymakers, investors, corporate executives, and those charged with governance to include ESG in corporate strategy with continuous monitoring from the board to help reduce corporate risk. Corporate sustainability initiatives in the form of ESG performance become more important, especially in the Anthropocene era. This study provides empirical evidence on the link between ESG, firm risk and the role of the board monitoring function.