Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. - ESG Country Rating

Data category

  • Environmental data
  • Social data
  • Governance data
  • Ratings

What data do you provide?

ISS ESG’s Country Rating solution provides a highly relevant and material assessment of a country’s ESG performance, allowing investors to draw well-informed conclusions about the long-term solvency of government bond issuers. The rating comprises more than 100 quantitative and qualitative criteria and follows a profound methodology, reflecting global best practices as well as normative considerations. 

The sustainability performance of countries is analysed via two dimensions and six categories: 

Social & Governance Rating

  1. Political System/Governance
  2. Human Rights/Fundamental Freedoms
  3. Social Conditions

Environmental Rating

  1. Natural Resources
  2. Climate Change/Energy
  3. Production/Consumption

A wide range of ESG topics are assessed in the ISS ESG Country Rating including both qualitative and quantitative criteria. For instance, the safeguarding of fundamental freedoms by a country’s government is mostly assessed in qualitative terms, while a country’s consumption of resources is quantified. The rating also includes a comprehensive analysis of relevant controversies, allowing investors to consider countries' performance and actions in areas especially critical to them.

The rating dimensions environment, social and governance are comprised of specifically defined topics, which in turn are further split into several criteria and sub-criteria. This allows for an individual assessment of each country’s performance in a very detailed way and to take into account the various individual interdependencies and multidimensional nature of the criteria.

The overall evaluation is based on a twelve–point grading system from A+ (excellent performance) to D- (poor performance). Countries are categorized as ISS ESG “Prime” if they achieve or exceed the minimum sustainability performance requirements (Prime threshold: B-) defined for the ESG Country Rating.  

Coverage includes approximately 100% coverage of global sovereign debt issued and more than 120 countries as well as Hong Kong and the European Union.

Where and how do you source your data?

ISS ESG’s Country Ratings are based on a variety of trustworthy sources, including: 

  • Supranational organisations such as the UN Development Programme, World Health Organisation, and International Labour Organisation
  • Public authorities such as the US State Department and German Foreign Affairs Department
  • Non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International, International Trade Union Confederation, Transparency International, and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 

Direct contact via telephone or e-mail is conducted only occasionally if data is ambiguous or if more background information is necessary. 

Who are the data users?

Data is used by a broad range of institutional investors, asset managers, asset owners, fund managers, banks, government institutions, universities and research firms. 

What is the cost for your data offering?

Pricing is based on the method by which data is delivered. ISS ESG can provide data via its proprietary platform, DataDesk, or via data feed. Pricing for this solution is available upon request. 


#investors; Looking for a way to complement conventional financial ratings? @issesg’s Country Rating provides detailed assessments of the #SustainabilityPerformance and risks of all EU, OECD & BRICS countries & sovereign issuers from Asia & South America: 


Corporate Statements

A custom-built approach to ESG

ISS ESG puts a premium on its clients’ ability to customise the ESG data and analytics they can access, its CEO Marija Kramer tells Environmental Finance.

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