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Sustainable Investing Glossary

What is ESG?

ESG definition

What is the definition of ESG?  ESG means using Environmental, Social and Governance factors to evaluate companies and countries on how far advanced they are with sustainability. Once enough data has been acquired on these three metrics, they can be integrated into the investment process when deciding what equities or bonds to buy.

ESG factors: Environmental

Environmental factors include the contribution a company or government makes to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions, along with waste management and energy efficiency. Given renewed efforts to combat global warming, cutting emissions and decarbonizing is become more important.

ESG investing
ESG investing
We integrate environmental, social and governance criteria into the majority of our investment processes.
More about ESG investing

ESG factors: Social

Social include human rights, labor standards in the supply chain, any exposure to illegal child labor, and more routine issues such as adherence to workplace health and safety. A social score also rises if a company is well integrated with its local community and therefore has a ‘social license’ to operate with consent.

ESG factors: Governance

Governance refers to a set of rules or principles defining rights, responsibilities and expectations between different stakeholders in the governance of corporations. A well-defined corporate governance system can be used to balance or align interests between stakeholders and can work as a tool to support a company’s long-term strategy. 

Governance can also refer to the standard of government of nations. Robeco measures ESG levels using the the SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment issued by S&P Global, and our Country Sustainability Ranking for governments, to give overall ESG scores. There is some crossover between the two, particularly for multinational companies.

Also read: ESG funds

SI Opener: Covid-19 puts spotlight on labor issues in the apparel industry
SI Opener: Covid-19 puts spotlight on labor issues in the apparel industry
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26-11-2020 | SI Opener
Robeco earns ‘leader’ label from Morningstar for ESG
Robeco earns ‘leader’ label from Morningstar for ESG
Robeco has been named by Morningstar as a ‘leader’ for its commitment to ESG.
25-11-2020 | Insight
The link between ESG and performance: SDG Credits stands the test
The link between ESG and performance: SDG Credits stands the test
Attribution analysis shows that investing in a way that contributes to the SDGs supports financial performance.
13-11-2020 | Insight