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Japanese Financial Services Agency Statements

JFSA’s Code of Conduct for ESG Evaluation and Data Providers (the “Code”), as Published December 2022.

Sustainable1 Responses to JFSA Principles

As an ESG Evaluation Provider producing S&P Global ESG Scores, Sustainable1 issues the following statements in support and endorsement of the Code published by the Financial Services Agency of Japan and explains how we address the Code.

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  • Principle 1
  • Principle 2
  • Principle 3
  • Principle 4
  • Principle 5
  • Principle 6

Principle 1 (Securing Quality):

Ensure the quality of ESG evaluation and data - The basic procedures necessary for this purpose should be established.

Sustainable1 has established procedures to ensure that its data analysis is thorough, and its methodologies are both consistently applied and regularly reviewed (Guidelines 1, 2 and 3). Sustainable1 adopts a multi layered approach to measure and optimize the quality of its ESG data as utilized in the creation of S&P Global ESG Scores (“Score Data”). This comprises data quality checking by analysts in several stages depending on data materiality and whether it is sourced through direct company engagement or from public records. Certain datasets will undergo two-stage quality checking in addition to further sample-checking. Also, an independent sampling team has been established to run a sampling program which randomly selects companies every month for audit, identifies errors and generates a health scorecard. This team focuses its efforts on fields that are deemed critical to quality according to pre-defined logic. Sustainable1 also regularly re-evaluates its quality processes and adjusts them in the light of findings and root cause analyses (P1, Guideline 1).

To ensure quality and objectivity of Score Data, Sustainable1 voluntarily appoints an independent third-party to conduct an external audit of the assessment process each year. The targeted Assurance statement can be found here (P1, Guideline 1).

Sustainable1 is undertaking several key initiatives to further support the creation of high quality Score Data including the introduction of new processes and systems to modify and centralize data collection and the expansion of audits to verify and enhance existing data validation and error checking systems. It is also increasing investments in automation and Machine Learning (ML) which will contribute to minimizing manual intervention, hence leading to an overall improvement of data quality (P1, Guideline 1) .

Further, Sustainable1 is in the process of formalizing the Analytic Risk and Quality (ARQ) group which will be responsible for performing independent (i) validations of the underlying methodologies and models for S&P Global ESG Scores, and (ii) periodic reviews of the S&P Global ESG Scores methodologies, models and application of the methodologies (P1, Guideline 3).

Principle 2 (Human Resources Development):

Secure necessary professional human resources to ensure the quality of the evaluation and data provision services provided and assure they develop their own professional skills.

Sustainable1 is committed to hiring sufficient skilled personnel with the appropriate balance of sustainability and financial knowledge to allow for efficient and smooth business operations (P2, Guidelines 1 and 2).  

Sustainable1 has adopted focused recruitment standards to attract and retain top talent and offers continuous learning and development opportunities to equip personnel with skills to further progress their competencies.  Furthermore, there are key mandatory training requirements pertaining to Risk & Compliance that all Sustainable1 employees must complete (P2, Guidelines 1 and 2).

Sustainable1 personnel have regular performance review meetings with managers and do an annual full year performance assessment (P2, Guideline 3).

Principle 3 (Ensuring Independence and Managing Conflicts of Interest):

Establish effective policies so the organization can make decisions and appropriately address conflicts of interest that may arise. Identify activities and situations that could undermine the independence, objectivity, and neutrality of the business, and avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Sustainable1 has implemented several controls, policies, and a detailed code of conduct (collectively the “Policies”) to ensure all employees are independent and properly insulated from any conflicts of interest. In particular, the policies and controls drive the following:

  1. compliance arrangements to enable actual or potential conflicts to be identified, managed, eliminated, and disclosed appropriately (P3, Guideline 1),
  2. a clear separation between employees who analyze and develop S&P Global ESG Scores, and employees involved in commercial and marketing activities (P3, Guideline 2),
  3. restrictions on employees to ensure that no personal interests (including securities holdings and outside business activities) conflict with duties of independence and objectivity towards clients (P3, Guideline 4),
  4. employee reporting lines and compensation arrangements that reinforce the exercise of independence and objectivity (P3, Guideline 5)

In the event that there are consulting, advisory or other business relationships with scored entities, Sustainable1 employs appropriate measures to ensure that no such relationships will compromise its ability to provide independent and objective assessments on those entities (P3, Guideline 2).    

Principle 4 (Ensuring Transparency):

Ensuring transparency is an essential and prioritized issue, and the organization should publicly clarify their philosophy in providing services. Methodology and processes for formulating services should also be sufficiently disclosed.

Sustainable1 describes the framework and process for generating S&P Global ESG Scores on its public website (P4, Guidelines 1 and 2). Score Data has documented audit trails, evidencing and rationale within the designated IT database in which the assessment is produced and maintained. Information on Sustainable1 methodologies (including related rationales, formats, background information and weights) is available here  (P4, Guidelines 1, 3 and 5)

Sustainable1 discloses S&P Global ESG Scores prominently on its website together with other fields to assist the user in understanding relevant context.  Examples of such additional disclosures are data availability, date of last update, score history and industry comparatives (P4, Guideline 4).

Further, the monitoring performed by the independent Analytic Risk and Quality (ARQ) function will assess the sufficiency of the transparency provided in the underlying methodologies and the application of those methodologies in producing S&P Global ESG Scores. (P4, Guidelines 3 and 4)

Principle 5 (Confidentiality):

Establish policies and procedures to appropriately protect non-public information obtained during business.

Sustainable1 will not publish or disclose any non-public and/or confidential information received in connection with the development of its S&P Global ESG Scores (“Confidential Information”) unless such disclosure is required by law or regulation or with the prior consent of the owner of such Confidential Information. Accordingly, Sustainable1 has established logical and practical procedures to (i) protect Confidential Information from fraud, theft, misuse, or inadvertent disclosure; and (ii) allow effective cross-organizational collaboration without compromising the integrity of the S&P Global ESG Scores or putting the protection of any Confidential Information or intellectual property at undue risk (P5, Guidelines 1 and 2); and (iii) ensure that access to systems is provided on a need-to-know basis only (P5, Guidelines 1 and 2).

Principle 6 (Communication with Companies):

Devise and improve the way the organization gathers information from companies so that the process becomes efficient for both service providers and companies and that necessary information can be sufficiently obtained. Appropriately respond when important or reasonable issues related to an information source are raised by companies subject to evaluation.

Companies who engage with Sustainable1 in the ESG assessment process are provided comprehensive and timely information on the data collection period and the process (P6, Guidelines 1 and 5).

Sustainable1 will conduct webcasts and in-person workshops monthly to provide information on the Score Data, methodologies, and participation processes. (P6, Guidelines 1 and 5).

Sustainable1 has defined measures and official points of contact for companies to refer to for questions or concerns about S&P Global ESG Scores or Score Data. Measures include processes to initiate, where appropriate, reviews of prior to or after S&P Global ESG Score publication (P6, Guidelines 2 and 4 and 6).