SDG Investing

The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint for sustainable investing

Key points

  1. Investments with positive societal impact and contribution to SDGs

  2. Proprietary SDG framework applying 25+ years of research and sustainability data

  3. Exclusion of negative SDG contributions and controversies

Set up in 2015 by the UN, the SDGs provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The SDGs are a perfect way to align investors with broader objectives of society. The granularity of the SDGs helps to clearly articulate how sustainability topics are applied to the investment decision making and to explain specifically how money contributes.

Our approach

Robeco was one of the first asset managers to formally develop a proprietary investment framework focused on the SDGs. This is a robust tool that systematically evaluates companies based on their contribution towards the SDGs. A company’s overall performance across the SDGs aggregates into an overall company SDG score. These scores are used to construct portfolios that pursue positive impact and aim to avoid negative impact, thereby advancing sustainable economic, social and ecological progress.

We use this three-step framework to assess to what extent a company contributes positively or negatively to each of the SDGs:

Step 1: Products

Step 1: Products

What do companies produce?

  • Positive contribution examples: medicine, water, healthcare

  • Negative contribution examples: shale gas, fast food, gambling

Step 2: Procedure

Step 2: Procedure

How do companies produce?

  • Governance factors

  • Pattern of questionable conduct?

  • Differentiate between firms with highest SDG impact

Step 3: Controversies

Step 3: Controversies

Are controversies known?

  • Example of controversies: spills, bribery and fraud, mis-selling

How do companies and countries score on sustainability?

Explore the contributions companies make to the Sustainable Development Goals and how countries rank on ESG criteria.

Find out more

All companies are given an SDG score based on their contribution to the SDGs (positive, neutral or negative) and the impact of this contribution (high, medium or low). For instance, companies that have a strong positive impact on the SDGs receive a score of +3, while those with a low positive impact would score a +1.

The Robeco SDG strategies apply this framework to define an investable universe composed of companies that contribute positively to the SDGs. To enable diversification across sectors and countries, companies with a neutral SDG score may be included in the portfolio as well.

The scoring system of the Robeco SDG Framework builds on a pioneering research tradition, and further expands on Robeco’s decades-long lead in sustainable investing. The SDG score, together with the macroeconomic outlook, fundamental analysis, sustainability research and ongoing risk management helps investment teams reduce downside risk and select the most promising stocks and bonds for investment portfolios. For each SDG portfolio we report on overall SDG scores versus the index and individual scores for each of the 17 SDGs.



The quality of the SDG Framework is maintained by our Sustainable Investing Center of Expertise, which includes a dedicated SDG Strategist, SDG Committee and Sustainability Investing Research team. The Center also comprises ESG data scientists and an Active Ownership team that engages with companies and governments on SDGs as well as a wide range of financially material ESG topics. The sustainability specialists work closely with over 200 investment professionals on integrating sustainability into investment portfolios.

Jan Anton van Zanten - SDG Strategist

Jan Anton van Zanten
SDG Strategist

Let us take advantage of the opportunities presented by climate action and lay the foundations for a more prosperous and secure future for all


Robeco offers SDG strategies in equities, credits and through Indices:


This strategy includes strategies classified as Article 8 as well as strategies classified as Article 9 under the EU's Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation.




Investments that quantifiably contribute to the SDGs



Investing that aims to generate beneficial social and/or environmental effects



A true understanding of the topic has been in our DNA since the start


Rich heritage

This has been a core expertise for us for decades