ESG Data Guide 2024

ISS-Corporate - Second Party Opinion

Data category

  • Verification/Certification/External opinion
  • Second Party Opinion

The data offers solutions for:

  • Environmental impact analysis and insight
  • Nature-based information: Biodiversity
  • Nature-based information: Land use
  • Nature-based information: Oceans
  • Nature-based information: Water
  • Reporting: Impact
  • Reporting: UN SDGs
  • Social impact analysis and insight

Who are the data users?

  • Corporates
  • Financial institutions
  • Government

Brief description of the data offering

ISS-Corporate’s Second Party Opinion (SPO) services provide issuers with an independent assessment of their Green, Social and Sustainability-linked financing frameworks. Those that meet ISS-Corporate's rigorous global standards give investors the security that the projects they fund are suitably sustainable. 

The SPO comes in the form of a written report, detailing three core areas: 

  • The alignment of the issuer's financing framework with accepted market practices and relevant industry standards, such as the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Green/Social/Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles (for bonds), the LMA Principles (for loans), the EU Taxonomy Delegated Acts or the EU Green Bond Standard. Other regional standards may be considered, e.g. ASEAN Green Bond Standards.
  • Use of Proceeds structures: The quality of environmental, social and governance (ESG) management of the eligible project categories and selection criteria (measured against key performance indicators or available regulatory requirements such as the EU Taxonomy)
    Sustainability-linked structures: The relevance, core nature and materiality of selected KPIs and the level of ambition of associated sustainability performance targets.
  • The issuer’s sustainability strategy and business exposure to ESG risks to demonstrate the sustainability credentials of the instrument and issuer to potential investors whilst avoiding reputational risk and greenwashing accusations.

Where and how do you source your data?

  • The Sustainable Financing Framework is provided by the client.
  • The information used to analyse the quality of ESG management is provided by the client at the request of ISS-Corporate.
  • The data informing the issuer’s business exposure to ESG risks and sustainability strategy is provided by the client.
  • The information on potential controversies on the projects financed by the issuer is retrieved by analysing media and public databases.

What is the cost for your data offering?

Pricing is based on several factors, including the number of different project categories or KPIs/SPTs within the issuer’s framework. Pricing is available upon request.



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

  • Leading SPO market expertise. Over 30 years long-standing ESG expertise and one of the first SPO providers and Approved Verifiers by the Climate Bond Initiative in the green bond market.
  • Leverages leading in-house ESG data solutions. ISS-Corporate’ SPOs are underpinned by data and insights sourced from ISS expertise.
  • Experience across issuer types and asset classes. ISS-Corporate has been a pioneer in developing and applying new methodologies for the measurement of ESG and climate impacts across a variety of asset classes. It has delivered over 800 SPOs and was the first SPO provider to offer a Sustainability-Linked Bond SPO in 2020, as well as:
    1) providing the first External Review on a Sustainability-Linked Loan Funding Framework which bridged the gap between a Use of Proceeds and Sustainability-Linked transaction 2) developing its offering of Sustainability-Linked transaction SPOs, especially for issuers in transitioning sectors, and 3) issuing to financial institutions innovative External Reviews for lending frameworks, which allowed issuers to widen their possibilities to invest sustainably 
  • Applicability across various client types. Issuers benefit from an independent opinion of the Instrument’s Sustainability Quality & Impact, while investors have confirmation that the bond or loan meets their sustainability requirements.

Most recent significant update:

Regarding sustainability-linked structures, our methodology has been updated to acknowledge the issuer’s efforts in overcoming the challenges related to benchmarking innovative indicators,  considering the limited adoption in the market. 

In the post-issuance phase, we have recently developed a limited assurance methodology to review the alignment of the financed portfolio with the issuer’s framework commitments. The approach is based on the sampling of the portfolio (at least 51%) representing all the categories and the types of projects financed. The sample is then analysed to verify the respect of the issuer’s selection criteria.


Planned future enhancements:

In July 2024, an updated methodology for transition finance projects will be adopted for corporates, allowing issuers to highlight the alignment between their overall sustainability strategy to decarbonize their business and the projects financed under their framework.

By the end of 2024, a comprehensive EU Green Bond Standard methodology will be available.

What trends are you seeing in terms of customer demand?

Currently, the focus is still mainly on use-of-proceeds transactions, with sustainability-linked structures cautiously re-entering the conversation  in Europe and Asia. The interest in transition finance projects is growing in emerging markets, despite the challenges of establishing solid strategies. Financial institutions are actively supporting their clients on this journey, developing internal taxonomies and classification systems to assist corporates. In Europe, the forthcoming EU GBS has sparked interest among issuers, with some looking to adopt the Standard by early 2025.


Federico Pezzolato, Executive Director, Global Sustainable Finance Manager, ISS-Corporate