ESG Data Guide 2023

ISS ESG - ESG Country Rating

Data category

  • Environmental data
  • Governance data
  • Ratings
  • Social data
  • Research data

The data offers solutions for:

  • Environmental impact analysis and insight
  • Investment decisions and portfolio insight
  • Nature-based information
  • Nature-based information: Biodiversity
  • Nature-based information: Land use
  • Nature-based information: Oceans
  • Nature-based information: Water
  • Reporting: Impact

Who are the data users?

  • Corporates
  • Trustees
  • Investors
  • Government
  • Financial institutions
  • Index providers; Institutional investors; Asset managers; Asset owners; Fund managers; Banks; Universities; Research firms

Brief description of the data offering

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 more than 830+ sovereign issuers as of March 2022.

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.

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.

What are the key attributes that differentiates the data you offer?

  • Profound Rating Methodology. The ISS ESG Country Rating framework includes more than 100 indicators holistically measuring performance against global best practices and material normative considerations. ISS ESG’s rating methodology follows clearly documented guidelines covering rigorous data collection process and peer review.
  • Broad Coverage. The ISS ESG Country Rating provides a material assessment of the sustainability performance and risks of all EU, OECD and BRICS countries as well as all major sovereign issuers from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. It includes 830+ sovereign issuers, which is approximately 100% of global sovereign debt issued.
  • Global Relevance. The ISS ESG Country Rating assesses a wide range of topics and data, including but not limited to: natural resources and biodiversity, agriculture and industry, transport, climate change, energy, health education, labour, social cohesion, political system, corruption, governance, stability, and civil and political rights. In depth analysis enables investors to draw well-informed conclusions about the alignment of an issuer with international norms, such as the UN SDGs, as well as its long-term solvency.
  • High level of detail and transparency. ISS ESG offers full transparency when it comes to criteria weighting, point values, and performance requirements in the ratings. This allows investors to fully retrace the overall rating.


#Investors; Looking for a way to complement conventional financial ratings? @ISSESG’s Country Rating provides detailed assessments of the #SustainabilityPerformance and risks of sovereign bond issuers globally: