Thematic Engagement

Engage on the most important ESG themes


Asset owners and asset managers have the opportunity to consider their investments not only from a performance perspective, but also through the broader lens of environmental, social and governance stewardship.

Whether the focus is on climate, plastics, corporate governance, taxation or other sustainability themes, our Thematic Engagement services allow investors to align their interests in addressing specific issues with their engagement activities.

The Thematic Engagement philosophy centres on systemic change and has collaboration, root causes and best practice sharing at its core. The dialogues are aimed at improving engaged companies’ (proactive) risk and impact management, including the related disclosure, as well as their resilience and strategic positioning. At the same time, through parallel engagement activities, the intended impact extends beyond targeted companies. Our themes strive for creating positive change on company, sector, system and issue level.

Key Features and Benefits


Improve corporate ESG performance

Encourage portfolio companies to proactively tackle ESG issues to mitigate emerging and intensifying risks, as well as to create a positive impact and minimize their negative impact.


Improve corporate reputation management

Improve portfolio companies’ corporate reputations by encouraging them to prepare for regulatory trends and position themselves as responsible corporate citizens.


Leverage research as input for your own dialogue with companies

Leverage our rich database of real-time case information to improve your own engagement dialogues and to identify best practices for key ESG issues.


Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability

Use case information for storytelling and sustainability reporting to demonstrate your share ownership commitment to sustainability and creating broad impact.

Join the Following Engagements

Become part of one or more of our ongoing themes, which run for approximately three years, typically targeting around 20 companies.

New Themes


Human Capital Management

With a focus on human rights and labor practices, this programme encourages companies to adopt globally agreed corporate standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We seek to foster the integration of human rights considerations into company strategies, establish due diligence processes, and promote the establishment of operational-level grievance mechanisms.


Circularity and Resource Management

This programme emphasizes the shift towards a circular economy and efficient resource management. By engaging with companies, we aim to promote strategies that minimize waste, encourage recycling and reuse, and enhance resource efficiency.


Biodiversity & Natural Capital Impact Programme

An outcomes-based engagement to help investors drive positive impact

The objective of our Biodiversity and Natural Capital Programme is to partner with global investors to address the complexity and interlinkages of biodiversity loss and climate change, to assess double-materiality, protect and promote long-term value, and capitalize on opportunities and generate systemic impact. Biodiversity loss has emerged as a material and systemic risk that rivals the impact of climate, featuring among the top risks facing investors over the next 10 years. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s GDP (equal to $44 trillion USD) is moderately or highly dependent on contributions from nature.


Net Zero Transition

Sustainalytics’ Net Zero Transition Engagement Programme will support institutional investors to advance their net zero stewardship ambitions by establishing an effective climate-focused dialogue with high-emitting companies on their journey to net zero carbon emissions.

Running Themes that are Open for Participation


Human Rights Accelerator

This thematic engagement aims to improve the adoption of globally agreed corporate standards for managing and promoting human rights, as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and mirrored in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Specific areas of focus will be encouraging companies to commit to respect human rights, incorporate relevant due diligence processes and establish operational-level grievance mechanisms.


Climate Change – Sustainable Forests and Finance

It is estimated that a tipping point caused by deforestation of the Amazon could be reached at a forest-cover loss of between 20 and 40 percent. This thematic engagement will address climate risk and advocate for reductions in direct and indirect emissions in the context of global forest systems.


Feeding the Future

Agriculture is estimated to account for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 80 percent of deforestation, 70 percent of water use and 78 percent of ocean and freshwater pollution. This engagement theme aims to contribute to a more sustainable trajectory for the future of food.


Modern Slavery

It is anticipated that modern slavery will increasingly put companies at a competitive disadvantage through, for example, operational disruptions, compliance risks and loss of business due to damage to reputation. The engagement’s objective is to ensure high-risk portfolio companies adopt rigorous strategies on modern slavery.


Responsible Cleantech

Cleantech is a vital part of the response to climate change as well as other economic and societal needs. The growing supply of cleantech products also entails environmental and social challenges within the various processes across the value chain. This engagement aims to encourage and enable the cleantech industry to grow in a more responsible manner.


Human Capital and the Future of Work

Technological progress, globalization and demographic shifts will bring structural changes and disruptions to society and labor markets. Companies with a robust approach to DEI and human capital management are better placed to weather the related challenges. This engagement supports investors in understanding how companies can proactively manage workforce needs and transitions for a sustainable labor market.


Governance of SDGs

This thematic engagement is aimed at encouraging companies to define meaningful SDG strategies that align with their business plans. It aims to influence them to address their negative impacts and seek out opportunities to produce positive outcomes in line with the 2030 SDG agenda, while contributing to a more stable long-term operating environment for themselves.


Sustainable Seafood

Engaging with marine fisheries and aquaculture producers, the focus is on managing seafood sustainability risks and opportunities, which in turn contributes to long-term operational continuity and sustainability.


Tomorrow’s Board

The world is changing faster than it ever has. As a result, companies are facing increasingly complex and numerous challenges. They need to adapt faster, and in this process, the board has a crucial role to play. A new vision of the board is needed to help start a process today that will result in them being better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.

Thematic Bundles

Sustainalytics’ Curated Thematic Bundles combine three or more topics with common elements to engage companies across sector and geography. The themes have been selected to give investors the broadest possible coverage of E, S and G topics with exposure to diverse industries and companies.

Comprehensive Thematic Engagement

Our Comprehensive Thematic Engagement program combines a set of four thematic engagements in a single package: Climate Transition, Human Capital and the Future of Work, Plastics and the Circular Economy and Tomorrow’s Board. The themes have been selected to give investors the broadest possible coverage of E, S and G topics with exposure to diverse industries and companies.


The Next Normal:

Join our “Next Normal Bundle” which combines three future-focused thematic engagements to help clients address the mega-trend. ESG risks and opportunities of tomorrow: Feeding the Future, Human Capital and the Future of Work, Responsible Cleantech. This bundle is designed to provide investors with the opportunity to engage with their companies on three increasingly salient and systemic issues. It provides investors with a holistic engagement approach designed to effect broad-based change.




Bespoke Thematic Bundle

Investors can also choose to create their own bespoke bundles consisting of either three or more Thematic Engagements of their choosing. For example, they could create thematic bundles focused on meta themes, such as Climate Change. Bespoke bundles provide investors with additional flexibility to select the themes most closely aligned to their strategy and the interests of their clients/beneficiaries.


Delivery Options 

global access platform in laptop

Global Access

Sustainalytics’ user-friendly investor interface provides full insight into a company’s engagement profile, overall ratings and dialogue. It also includes engagement manager commentary on the case, next steps and upcoming meetings.

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Data Services

Basic data points can be delivered as a standard portfolio report in Excel or as a data feed.

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Why Sustainalytics?


A Single Market Standard

Consistent approach to ESG assessments across the investment spectrum.


Award-Winning Research and Data

Firm recognized as Best ESG Research and Data Provider by Environmental Finance and Investment Week.


End-to-End ESG Solutions

ESG products and services that serve the entire investment value chain.


30 Years of ESG Expertise

800+ ESG research analysts across our global offices.


A Leading SPO Provider

As recognized by Environmental Finance and the Climate Bonds Initiative.

Related Insights and Resources

SDGs and ESG: Why the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Should Top Every Boardroom Agenda

The world is failing to achieve the UN Sustainable Development goals, with just 15% of targets on track. In this article, we explore the role of SDGs in developing sustainability objectives and how boards of directors can make progress on their targets.

Global Greenwashing Regulations: How the World Is Cracking Down on Misleading Sustainability Claims

Amid fears of greenwashing claims and evolving reporting standards, sustainable investment assets have dropped as much as 51 percent. In this rapidly changing environment, ESG stewardship is one of the most effective ways to integrate genuine sustainability principles into investment management.

ESG Stewardship: A Powerful Tool to Mitigate Greenwashing Risks

Amid fears of greenwashing claims and evolving reporting standards, sustainable investment assets have dropped as much as 51 percent. In this rapidly changing environment, ESG stewardship is one of the most effective ways to integrate genuine sustainability principles into investment management.

UK Stewardship Code

UK Stewardship Code - Annual Signatory Report

Review our UK Stewardship Code submission to learn more about Morningstar Sustainalytics’ collaborative engagement approach.

Related Solutions 


Impact Solutions

Measure, manage and report on the social and environmental impact of your portfolio.

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Material Risk Engagement

Engage on the most material ESG risks identified by the ESG Risk Ratings.

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Global Standards Engagement

Engage with companies that breach international norms and standards as identified by our Global Standards Screening research.

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