Thematic Engagement

Engage on the most important ESG themes

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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

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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.

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Improve corporate reputation management

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


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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Running Themes that are Open for Participation

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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.

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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.

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Child Labor in Cocoa

Over two million children below the age of 18 work in hazardous conditions in the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana. This engagement is founded on investors’ expectations for some of the largest companies in the cocoa sector, and addresses the issue of child labor in cocoa.

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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.

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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.

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Localized Water Management

This engagement focuses on sustainable management of water resources, emphasizing the importance of a localized approach to risks and impacts. The engagement targets companies across selected sectors that share the same water catchment in the Tiete (Brazil) and/or Vaal (South Africa) river basins.

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Plastics and the Circular Economy

Targeting the automotive, consumer goods and electronics sectors, this engagement focuses on encouraging companies to improve the quality and economics of recycling practices, to shift strategic focus towards redesign and innovation and to increase the re-usability of products.

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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.

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Taxation 2.0

Focused on companies in the technology and pharmaceutical sectors, this engagement aims to create awareness among companies on tax avoidance, encourage them to approach tax as a corporate governance and risk management issue, and improve the related disclosure.

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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

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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.

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The Next Normal:

Join our Next Normal bundle focused on strengthening companies’ ESG risk management and resilience to future systemic shocks. The bundle consists of the following themes: Feeding the Future, Human Capital & the Future of Work, and Responsible Cleantech.

 

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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?

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A Single Market Standard

Consistent approach to ESG assessments across the investment spectrum.

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Award-Winning Research and Data

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

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End-to-End ESG Solutions

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

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25+ Years ESG Expertise

350+ ESG research analysts across our global offices.

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Largest Second-Party Opinion Provider

As recognized by Environmental Finance and the Climate Bonds Initiative.

Related Insights and Resources

ESG interconnected

Using Systems Thinking to Avoid ESG Investing Blind Spots

For investors looking to enhance ESG risk management and the long-term impact of sustainability efforts, a systemic approach can help identify interventions that will most effectively mitigate the risk of negative outcomes or divert the chain of events towards a more sustainable trajectory. Typically, this involves moving from single-issue or company-specific tactics to progressively integrate system-level considerations in ESG strategies. Targeting systemic change through active ownership is one way to acknowledge and start unravelling the dynamic web of global challenges.

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What Climate Litigation Means for the Oil & Gas Industry

As the global economy looks towards recovery after being impacted by the pandemic, the oil and gas industry faces a growing wave of shareholder activism and climate litigation due to a heightened focus on an accelerated transition as an indirect impact of the pandemic – painting an increasingly bleak picture for those within the industry.

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Royal Dutch Shell Court Order Shifts Paradigm for Corporate ESG Accountability

On 26 May 2021, the Court of The Hague orders Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) to reduce CO2 emissions to a net 45% by the end of 2030 compared to 2019 through the Group Policy of the Shell Group. The order of a national (Dutch) court demands that a global company (RDS) fulfills its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, although RDS was not a party in that agreement, and there is no legal equivalent in The Netherlands. What are the broader consequences of this order, also globally and for other companies and potentially also other jurisdictions?

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Banks Embrace Corporate Culture as Change Agent

Corporate culture is not automatically positive, and elements of a company’s culture may provide certain benefits or disadvantages to a firm’s competitiveness. When acknowledged, corporate culture can be used as a tool to drive better business outcomes and manage conduct and compliance risk. Our discussions with companies show that corporate culture can have a dominant effect and influence behaviour over and beyond stated company policies and programs.

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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