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Show, don't tell – investing in sustainable themes with demonstrated impact

Show, don't tell – investing in sustainable themes with demonstrated impact

10-06-2021 | Insight
The popularity of sustainable investing, especially in public equity markets, has fueled growth in the volume of ESG reporting from companies. But even as inflows swell, progress on sustainable development goals (SDGs) has not kept pace and is even regressing in some critical areas.
  • Jan Anton van Zanten
    Jan Anton
    van Zanten
    SDG Strategist

To truly advance sustainability in the economy and for society, investors must measure whether companies are producing absolute, positive outcomes. Without impact data to guide them, companies, investors, and stakeholders have no way of knowing the efficacy of their investments. Nor can they maximize sustainability actions and investments. As a result, progress continues to be sub-optimal.

Impact measurement is a way to show investors and stakeholders the real-world outcomes of the companies in which they invest. 

Robeco’s sustainable thematic portfolios are constructed based on rigorous fundamental analysis, ESG research and careful theme development. But we drill even deeper. Using a proprietary SDG Framework, we assess to what extent investee companies are impacting each of the 17 SDGs. Moreover, we drill even further and calculate the impact of our sustainable thematic portfolios based on the most relevant SDG targets: how much clean water was distributed to households, how much greenhouse gas was avoided, how many tonnes of plastic was recycled, and how many individuals were provided with access to healthcare.

Impact results are reported for Robeco’s Smart Energy, Smart Materials, Healthy Living and Sustainable Water strategies. 

Sustainable investing is entering a new stage of development, one that goes beyond ESG research and ratings. Impact measurement and investing goes beyond measuring ESG criteria to reveal material outcomes – the true impact – of investee companies within our sustainable thematic equity portfolios.   

Our impact reporting tools help guide investment decisions, inform engagement activities, and create accountability for our sustainable investment objectives. 

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