Investor News

MSCI Launches Tool to Help Investors Assess Alignment to UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sep 16, 2020 at 4:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 16, 2020-- MSCI Inc. (NYSE: MSCI), a leading provider of critical decision support tools and services for the global investment community, has today launched a tool to help investors assess their exposure and alignment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

The MSCI SDG Alignment Tool is designed to provide investors with a complete view of a company’s net contribution – both positive and negative – towards addressing each of the 17 UN SDGs. The launch follows MSCI's collaboration in 2018 with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on a joint discussion paper, "Institutional Investing for the SDGs," which was intended to spark discussion among stakeholders and market participants. The tool brings together MSCI’s framework covering over 8,600 equity and fixed income issuers, with analysis of the full range of a company’s operations, products, services, policies and practices, to evaluate its net contribution to addressing the global challenges the UN SDGs aim to tackle.

The tool allows for flexible use of its model towards specific impact investing goals or focused on specific alignment dimensions, powered by data inputs from MSCI ESG Research’s core research products.

Remy Briand, Head of ESG at MSCI, commented: “Five years on from the adoption of the UN SDGs, we are at a critical juncture. There is increasing demand from investors to channel capital to help deliver on these goals, but the fragmented data around the extent to which a company’s products and operations are aligned to a particular SDG remains an obstacle. Through this new tool we are seeking to provide an additional layer of transparency for investors to better assess the merits of claims put forth by their portfolio companies. With the target deadline for achieving the SDGs only a decade away, the standardization of that assessment is critical.”

Assessing company alignment to the UN SDGs

The framework behind the MSCI SDG Alignment tool draws on publicly available information, rather than solely relying on companies self-declared alignment with the goals, to provide a holistic view of alignment.

Based on data from the new tool MSCI found that:

  • Across all 17 SDGs, 54 percent of MSCI ACWI constituents were mostly aligned, meaning that they showed no strong misalignment on any of the SDGs and had more areas assessed as aligned than misaligned.
  • SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) showed the highest degree of alignment: of the MSCI ACWI constituents (as of August 11, 2020), a third were found to be aligned or strongly aligned with the goal either through offering products enabling economic advancements (such as SME financing, digital divide solution, or education materials and services) or supporting inclusive and fair employment and support for communities.
  • Goals 7 (clean energy), 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and 13 (climate action) had the highest percentage of companies (8%-9%) misaligned with the goals, driven mostly by continuing reliance on fossil fuels.

Remy Briand continued, “We have found that companies can both overstate and understate their commitments to particular SDGs, which could undermine efforts by institutional investors to advance sustainable development. Investors pursuing an impact investing approach could find that portfolio companies claim to support an SDG while being implicated in conduct that may belie that support. Conversely, some companies that fail to publicly commit to any SDG but may align with at least one of the goals may fall below the radar of impact investors seeking to target positive impact companies.”

More About the MSCI SDG Alignment tool

Through the MSCI SDG Alignment tool, which is available through MSCI’s ESG Manager platform, investors will be better able to:

  • Measure and report on the degree of SDG alignment in portfolios
  • Develop SDG-themed investment products
  • Comply with client mandates on the SDGs
  • Identify companies that are better aligned with the SDGs
  • Meet the rising demand to channel capital towards addressing the objectives of the global goals

The model provides 17 SDG Net Alignment scores and assessments for each of the UN SDGs on a scale from Strongly Aligned to Strongly Misaligned. The model also offers assessments on two dimensions – product alignment and operation alignment – for each company and for each of the 17 goals.

MSCI has a long history of analyzing SDG metrics. In 2016, it developed a new framework designed to allow investors to measure their exposure to listed companies providing sustainable impact solutions, grouping the 17 goals into five actionable impact themes.

About MSCI ESG Research Products and Services

MSCI ESG Research products and services are provided by MSCI ESG Research LLC, and are designed to provide in-depth research, ratings and analysis of environmental, social and governance-related business practices to companies worldwide. ESG ratings, data and analysis from MSCI ESG Research LLC. are also used in the construction of the MSCI ESG Indexes. MSCI ESG Research LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and a subsidiary of MSCI Inc.

About MSCI

MSCI is a leading provider of critical decision support tools and services for the global investment community. With over 45 years of expertise in research, data and technology, we power better investment decisions by enabling clients to understand and analyze key drivers of risk and return and confidently build more effective portfolios. We create industry-leading research-enhanced solutions that clients use to gain insight into and improve transparency across the investment process. To learn more, please visit

The information contained herein (the “Information”) may not be reproduced or redisseminated in whole or in part without prior written permission from MSCI ESG Research. The Information may not be used to verify or correct other data, to create any derivative works, to create indexes, risk models, or analytics, or in connection with issuing, offering, sponsoring, managing or marketing any securities, portfolios, financial products or other investment vehicles. Historical data and analysis should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of any future performance, analysis, forecast or prediction. MSCI ESG Research is provided by MSCI Inc.’s subsidiary, MSCI ESG Research LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. MSCI ESG Research materials, including materials utilized in any MSCI ESG Indexes or other products, have not been submitted to, nor received approval from, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission or any other regulatory body. None of the Information or MSCI index or other product or service constitutes an offer to buy or sell, or a promotion or recommendation of, any security, financial instrument or product or trading strategy. Further, none of the Information is intended to constitute investment advice or a recommendation to make (or refrain from making) any kind of investment decision and may not be relied on as such. The Information is provided “as is” and the user of the Information assumes the entire risk of any use it may make or permit to be made of the Information. NONE OF MSCI INC. OR ANY OF ITS SUBSIDIARIES OR ITS OR THEIR DIRECT OR INDIRECT SUPPLIERS OR ANY THIRD PARTY INVOLVED IN THE MAKING OR COMPILING OF THE INFORMATION (EACH, AN “INFORMATION PROVIDER”) MAKES ANY WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS AND, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, EACH INFORMATION PROVIDER HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING AND TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, IN NO EVENT SHALL ANY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDERS HAVE ANY LIABILITY REGARDING ANY OF THE INFORMATION FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS) OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. The foregoing shall not exclude or limit any liability that may not by applicable law be excluded or limited. Privacy notice: For information about how MSCI ESG Research LLC collects and uses personal data concerning officers and directors, please refer to our Privacy Notice at

Media Inquiries

Sam Wang
+1 212 804 5244
Melanie Blanco
+1 212 981 1049
Rachel Lai
+ 852 2844 9315

Investor Inquiries

Salli Schwartz
+1 212 804 5306
MSCI Global Client Service
EMEA Client Service
+ 44 20 7618.2222
Americas Client Service
+1 888 588 4567 (toll free)
Asia Pacific Client Service
+ 852 2844 9333

Source: MSCI Inc.