27-03-2023 · Insight

Quantifying sustainability – the data

Where many talk about sustainability, we put numbers on it. Robeco’s scientific approach relies on hard facts, not emotion. Our ‘Quantifying sustainability’ book has some amazing charts and graphics accompanying the stories of nine Robeco professionals. Here are the highlights.

For a start, it’s all about integration and education. Some 96% of all Robeco’s assets under management integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the investment process, of which 22% are in strategies with specific sustainability goals.

More than half of almost 400 client meetings held in 2022 involved knowledge sharing, and 600 stakeholders now have access to the SI Open Access Initiative sharing the data in the SDG Framework which measures corporate contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Climate change work

Mitigating climate change is an important part of our work in both investments and active ownership. Our traffic light system monitors 250 high emitters and the efforts they are making to decarbonize; we see robust transition strategies amid 27% of them, but 52% are not doing enough. We engage with more than 20% of companies and vote against 65% of climate transition plans.

Pursuing the SDGs is achieved through bespoke equity and credit strategies and regular emerging markets portfolios. Of the 11,948 companies covered by our SDG Framework, 21% have a high positive score, 12% are neutral, and 8% have a high negative score. Some 38% of the holdings in our core emerging market strategies are under engagement.

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

Being nice pays off

How you treat your workers can make a big difference to productivity. But how to measure something so subjective? We use 16 types of alternative data, six types of natural language processing algorithms, and 200 terabytes of data (equivalent to 40,000 DVDs) involving 35,000 computer processing units (CPU) per hour; a standard video game uses 1 CPU. It’s a lot of work.

Multi-asset investing is often a best-of-all-worlds style, but we’re pretty choosy in what we look for in equities, credits, government bonds and alternatives. At least half of the corporate portfolio must be in sustainable investments, government bonds must have a Country Sustainability Ranking score of at least 6/10, and the carbon footprint of the portfolio must be lower than the index.

Protecting biodiversity

And don’t forget the need to protect biodiversity – also a financial imperative given that USD 44 trillion of economic output is dependent on nature. Our new Biodiversity Equities strategy invests one-third of its assets in freshwater networks and another one-third in traceable products. This is part of the urgent need to protect the 37,400 species threatened with extinction.

The final statistic we want to share is about us. Robeco was given a unique AA rating for sustainability by the 2023 ShareAction survey of 77 global asset managers, making us top of the tree. That’s because we have EUR 195.3 billion in ESG-integrated assets, EUR 389 billion in assets under engagement in 270 cases across 26 themes, and EUR 154 billion in assets under voting.

This story is a collection of excerpts from the data pages of the Quantifying sustainability book.