SDG funds are those that are specifically designed to target companies that are making a positive contribution to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Companies can contribute to achieving the SDGs by making products or offering services that help achieve one or more of the 17 goals. Some companies will by nature be more attuned to being able to make a contribution than others.
For example, a company producing solar energy is contributing to SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy). A business creating educational materials for schools is contributing to SDG 4 (quality education), while a firm that actively works to promote women in leadership roles is advancing SDG 5 (gender equality).
Conversely, some companies have negative impacts on the SDGs, such as those making harmful products like cigarettes, and are excluded from SDG funds. Others may contribute both positively and negatively; for example, an energy utility that uses both wind power and thermal coal. Therefore, scoring systems are used to calculate the overall contribution. Robeco uses a three-step process to find candidates for its SDG funds, analyzing what the company does, how it goes about doing it, and whether it has been involved in any controversies. Other asset managers have similar filtration systems, often focusing on wider themes that are directly or indirectly related to the SDGs.
RobecoSAM manages five funds that target the SDGs on behalf of the wider Robeco group. These are:
In addition, certain other strategies in the Sustainability Focused and Impact Investing ranges target a theme that encompasses one or more of the SDGs. These include
Once in their infancy, and considered a highly niche product, more asset managers are now launching bespoke SDG strategies, often as part of wider impact investing initiatives. Scoring systems to assess contributions are also becoming more advanced, as more reliable data becomes available.See also: Sustainable Development Goals, Impact investing.