ESG criteria is used to determine whether a company complies with the desired level of standards. If not, it can be removed from consideration in the investment process, denying the company access to capital.
Exclusions typically involve the makers of controversial weapons such as cluster bombs or nuclear warheads and those making indisputably harmful products such as tobacco and firearms, along with companies engaged in human rights abuses such as child labor. Companies engaged in serious corporate governance breaches such as bribery or corruption and that show no willingness to resolve these issues, are also typically excluded.
The matter of what to exclude largely remains an act of conscience for investors. This is why most use the principles contained within the UN Global Compact as a benchmark for what is considered to be unacceptable business practices. For some products, exclusion is required by law: Dutch legislation, for example, forbids the ownership of companies making cluster bombs or other contentious munitions.
As the world combats climate change, companies heavily involved in thermal coal production, deforestation and unacceptable levels of pollution have joined the ranks of the routinely excluded. In July 2020, Robeco expanded the range for exclusions for companies involved in thermal coal, oil sands and Arctic drilling. This was, however, subject to the proportion of their business engaged in these activities.
Robeco set the threshold of 25% of revenues derived from thermal coal and oil sands, and 10% from Arctic drilling, for its Sustainability Inside range of funds. Stricter levels of 10% of revenues for thermal coal and oil sands, and 5% for Arctic drilling, were imposed for the Sustainability Focused and Impact Investing ranges of funds.
This threshold approach has the benefit that it leaves open the prospect of engagement to try to steer the company into more sustainable areas – rather than being outrightly excluded – when they may have other more sustainable or socially acceptable businesses. Robeco also uses the principle to exclude companies which have 5% or more of their activities engaged in ‘sin stocks’ such as alcohol, gambling or adult entertainment from the Sustainability Focused range. This method can be used for other variables: palm oil producers which have less than 20% of their plantations certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil are similarly excluded.
Exclusion is only used as a last resort when engagement is either not possible, or has failed to achieve the required objective due to a lack of cooperation from the company. Generally, it is possible to engage on corporate behavior, but not on a product. This means excluding an industry such as tobacco, since it cannot change the harmful nature of its product; but engaging with an energy company to try to persuade it to move more of its business away from fossil fuels.
Countries can also be excluded if they are subject to sanctions by the United Nations, European Union, or other international authorities. This bars Robeco from buying sovereign bonds from governments on the exclusion list, or from purchasing equities or credits or companies that are domiciled in these countries. This currently includes Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe.
For more information, see Robeco’s exclusion policy and exclusion list.
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2 Terms and Conditions
You acknowledge that you have read these Terms and Conditions (“Terms”) prior to accessing the website located at www.robeco.com/sg (“Website”) and you agree to be bound by the Terms. If you do not agree to all of the Terms, you are not an authorised user and you should not use the Website. The Website is owned by Robeco Singapore Private Limited (company registration number: UEN. 201541306Z), which is licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) pursuant to the Securities and Futures Act (Cap.289) (“SFA”) of Singapore, and is managed by Robeco Singapore Private Limited and/or its affiliates (collectively, as “Robeco”). The Website is intended for and should be accessed by institutional investors or accredited investors (as defined under Section 4A of the SFA) of Singapore. The Website is not directed to, or intended for distribution to or use by, any person or entity who is a citizen or resident of or located in any locality, state, country or other jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, availability or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would subject the Robeco to any registration or licensing requirement within such jurisdiction. It is your responsibility to observe all applicable laws, rules and regulations of any relevant jurisdiction. The content contained in the Website is owned by Robeco and/or its information providers and is protected by applicable copyrights, trademarks, service marks, and/or other intellectual property rights. You may not copy, distribute, modify, post, frame or link the Website, including any text, graphics, video, audio, software code, user interface, design or logos. You may not distribute, modify, transmit, reuse, repost, or use the content of the Website for public or commercial use, including all text, images, audio and/or video. Robeco may terminate your access to the Website for any reason, without prior notice. Neither Robeco, nor any of its associates, nor any director, officer or employee accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising directly or indirectly from the access of the Website. You agree to indemnity and hold Robeco, its associates, directors, officers or employees harmless against any and all claims, losses, liability, costs and expenses arising from your use of the Website due to violation of the Terms. Robeco reserves the right to change, modify, add or remove any parts of the Terms at any time and for any reason. The Terms shall deemed to be effective immediately upon posting. The Terms shall be governed by, and shall be construed in accordance with, the law of Singapore.
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