02-03-2023 · Research

Integrating the SDGs into government bond strategies

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a great means for directing investor capital to achieve sustainability targets. Assessing which companies to invest in based on their contributions to the 17 goals has been done for some time – but how to do this for government bonds?


  • Jan Anton van Zanten - SDG Strategist

    Jan Anton van Zanten

    SDG Strategist

  • Laurens Swinkels - Head of Quant Strategy

    Laurens Swinkels

    Head of Quant Strategy

  • Rikkert Scholten - Strategist

    Rikkert Scholten


Integrating the SDGs into government bond strategies

Four Robeco experts on the SDGs, fixed income markets and the sustainability of countries discuss the issue in their new paper, ‘Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals in Government Bond Investment Strategies’. They explain how Robeco’s new Country SDG Framework can be used to determine which countries’ sovereign bonds should be included in investment portfolios that align with the SDGs.

The paper consists of three parts. First, the new framework is introduced. It assesses whether countries have good policies for the SDGs, or need better access to capital in order to finance sustainable development, and whether they respect key sustainability principles. The authors argue that countries meeting these three criteria deserve priority for inclusion in SDG-aligned government bond portfolios.

Allocating scores to countries

Secondly, the framework is applied to 170 countries, allowing them to create SDG scores for each one. The resulting scores are different from, but complementary to, the existing Country Sustainability Ranking that scores countries on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk profiles.

Thirdly, to show how these scores can be used in practice, the authors create a hypothetical sovereign bond portfolio that aligns with the SDGs. They conclude with the overall implications for sustainable investing and the goals.

The paper was written by SDG Strategist Jan Anton van Zanten; multi-asset specialist Laurens Swinkels; global macro strategist Rikkert Scholten; and Country Sustainability specialist Max Schieler. The working paper is under review for academic publication, but you can read it here first.

Download the paper here

Stay informed on Sustainable investing

Receive our Robeco newsletter and be the first one to get the latest insights or build the greenest portfolio.

Stay updated

Important information

The contents of this document have not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission ("SFC") in Hong Kong. If you are in any doubt about any of the contents of this document, you should obtain independent professional advice. This document has been distributed by Robeco Hong Kong Limited (‘Robeco’). Robeco is regulated by the SFC in Hong Kong. This document has been prepared on a confidential basis solely for the recipient and is for information purposes only. Any reproduction or distribution of this documentation, in whole or in part, or the disclosure of its contents, without the prior written consent of Robeco, is prohibited. By accepting this documentation, the recipient agrees to the foregoing This document is intended to provide the reader with information on Robeco’s specific capabilities, but does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell certain securities or investment products. Investment decisions should only be based on the relevant prospectus and on thorough financial, fiscal and legal advice. Please refer to the relevant offering documents for details including the risk factors before making any investment decisions. The contents of this document are based upon sources of information believed to be reliable. This document is not intended for distribution to or use by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to local law or regulation. Investment Involves risks. Historical returns are provided for illustrative purposes only and do not necessarily reflect Robeco’s expectations for the future. The value of your investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no indication of current or future performance.