South Africa's Standard Bank has been ranked 98th on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World list, released during the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.
Standard Bank came in as one of nine banks, and the only African company, on the list of the 100 top-performing stocks worldwide according to a range of sector-specific "sustainability" measures.
The list is published annually by Canadian media and investment research company Corporate Knights, which commissions independent data collection for the project through direct engagement with the 350 companies that make the project's shortlist, chosen from approximately 4 000 global mid- and large-cap stocks worldwide.
Canada and the United States led the way in country representation, each with 10 companies on this year's list, followed by Australia, Britain and France, each with nine. Overall, the Global 100 drew companies from 22 countries on six continents.
Belgium-based materials technology and recycling company Umicore topped the list, followed by Brazil's Natura Cosmeticos, Norwegian energy firm Statoil, Finnish energy firm Neste Oil, and Danish pharmaceuticals and biotechnology company Novo Nordisk.
Standard Bank's head of sustainability management, Karin Ireton, told news publication Business Day that the group had made "significant investments in renewable energy, providing both debt financing and advisory services to project developers in South African renewable energy programmes.
"Our carbon finance team has also made a great contribution to cleaner development in many emerging markets countries by innovating in the use of carbon credits, by working in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme and other agencies enabling practical, life-changing opportunities," Ireton told Business Day.
Corporate Knights CEO Toby Heaps said the Global 100 companies "are leading a resource productivity revolution, transforming waste into treasure and doing more with less. They are steering our civilization away from ecological overshoot and back to a place of balance with our planet."
Doug Morrow, vice-president of research at Corporate Knights, said the Global 100 was "one of the few equity indexes that we are aware of that has outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) - the Global 100's benchmark - by over 900 bps over the last eight years.
"It turns out that our methodology for stock selection in the Global 100 is a strong proxy for corporate operational efficiency, which has been an increasingly important driver of stock returns in recent years," Morrow said.