The content displayed on this website is exclusively directed at qualified investors, as defined in the swiss collective investment schemes act of 23 june 2006 ("cisa") and its implementing ordinance, or at “independent asset managers” which meet additional requirements as set out below. Qualified investors are in particular regulated financial intermediaries such as banks, securities dealers, fund management companies and asset managers of collective investment schemes and central banks, regulated insurance companies, public entities and retirement benefits institutions with professional treasury or companies with professional treasury.
The contents, however, are not intended for non-qualified investors. By clicking "I agree" below, you confirm and acknowledge that you act in your capacity as qualified investor pursuant to CISA or as an “independent asset manager” who meets the additional requirements set out hereafter. In the event that you are an "independent asset manager" who meets all the requirements set out in Art. 3 para. 2 let. c) CISA in conjunction with Art. 3 CISO, by clicking "I Agree" below you confirm that you will use the content of this website only for those of your clients which are qualified investors pursuant to CISA.
Representative in Switzerland of the foreign funds registered with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority ("FINMA") for distribution in or from Switzerland to non-qualified investors is Robeco Switzerland AG, Josefstrasse 218, 8005 Zürich, and the paying agent is UBS Switzerland AG, Bahnhofstrasse 45, 8001 Zürich. Please consult www.finma.ch for a list of FINMA registered funds.
Neither information nor any opinion expressed on the website constitutes a solicitation, an offer or a recommendation to buy, sell or dispose of any investment, to engage in any other transaction or to provide any investment advice or service. An investment in a Robeco/Robeco Switzerland product should only be made after reading the related legal documents such as management regulations, articles of association, prospectuses, key investor information documents and annual and semi-annual reports, which can be all be obtained free of charge at this website, at the registered seat of the representative in Switzerland, as well as at the Robeco/Robeco Switzerland offices in each country where Robeco has a presence. In respect of the funds distributed in Switzerland, the place of performance and jurisdiction is the registered office of the representative in Switzerland.
This website is not directed to any person in any jurisdiction where, by reason of that person's nationality, residence or otherwise, the publication or availability of this website is prohibited. Persons in respect of whom such prohibitions apply must not access this website.
Corporate attitudes to sustainability have changed dramatically over the last decade. At the same time, sustainability assessments have adapted to this transformed landscape. But the process is not over: companies have no choice but to keep on upping their game.
In January, the Sustainability Yearbook was published for the tenth time. Gabriela Grab Hartmann, RobecoSAM’s Deputy Head of Research, notes that after a decade of research and dialogue with companies, the landscape has altered irrevocably. “When we published the first Sustainability Yearbook, sustainability was still a somewhat neglected issue,” she says.
In the decade since 2004, though, companies have made tremendous progress in recognizing the financial benefits of including sustainability as a core component in their corporate strategies.
Accordingly, the participation rate in RobecoSAM’s corporate sustainability assessment (CSA), on which the Sustainability Yearbook is based, has risen over the past decade. So have the sustainability scores of the companies taking part. As a result, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish sustainability leaders from laggards.
Consider how corporates now treat environmental issues. Most major companies now have an environmental management system in place and publish detailed environmental reports.
There have been similar developments in corporate governance. “Ten years ago, we were among the first investors to put a spotlight on corporate governance. Today, it is of central importance for companies and investors alike, particularly in the light of the various scandals recently,” notes Edoardo Gai, Head of Sustainability Services at RobecoSAM.
In fact, so great are the strides that companies have made that they have to keep upping their game to stand out from their industry peers to make it into the Yearbook.
“Companies will have to communicate the financial benefit of their sustainability strategy” Gabriela Grab Hartmann
But there’s more to it than simply getting more ambitious and effective at implementing sustainability. Corporates will also have to link the results of their sustainability strategies to their financial performance. “Companies will be expected to communicate the financial benefit of their sustainability strategy,” says Hartmann. The bar is being raised.
This ongoing progress in companies’ sustainability performance means that RobecoSAM’s analysts are constantly in search of ways to refine the CSA methodology to capture new sustainability factors that can influence a company’s financial performance. Over the years, RobecoSAM has added criteria to the CSA in areas such as innovation management, water-related risks, climate-change policies and, most recently, supply-chain management.
Another development since 2004 has been the spread of sustainability around the globe. “Interest in our assessment has grown considerably in every region,” notes Hartmann.
Moreover, the performance gap between companies based in Europe and those in regions such as North America and the emerging markets has narrowed. “South Korea is a country whose companies have shown remarkable improvement in their sustainability performance, mirroring the country’s own sustained economic development in recent years,” adds Gai.
So remarkable has that improvement been that Korea received six “gold medals”—which are awarded to the top-performing company in each sector and to those companies whose scores are within 1% of their sector leader’s score—in the 2013 Yearbook.
GS Engineering & Construction (heavy construction), Amorepacific (personal products), SK Telecom (mobile telecoms), KT Corporation (fixed line communications) and Lotte Shopping (general retailers) were industry leaders, while Hyundai Engineering & Construction also received a gold medal. The total of six gold medals puts South Korea in second place internationally, alongside Germany.
"Today, corporate governance is of central importance for companies and investors alike” Edoardo Gai
As emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa gain economic importance, investors are increasingly interested in how corporate sustainability is applied in these regions. “We will continue to increase the number of emerging markets-based companies covered by our assessment,” notes Gai.
This global expansion is creating new issues. As multinational companies expand into more regions, the question is whether to take a comprehensive, global approach to sustainability standards or to work intensively with each individual market to develop tailored policies.
“On the one hand, it’s important that global companies apply their policies and standards uniformly across all of their operations,” says Hartmann. “On the other, both global and local companies face additional sustainability challenges that are specific to the emerging markets.”
Clearly, sustainability is now at the top of corporate agendas. Despite the extraordinary progress since the first Sustainability Yearbook was published in 2004, there is still plenty to be excited about for the next decade.
Want to find out which companies are this year’s sustainability leaders?