Colourful dots depicting a digital graph

The GOLDEN dataset

At the core of the Leonardo Centre’s activities lies the GOLDEN dataset, a unique digital database of over 900,000 sustainability initiatives extracted from over 45,000 corporate sustainability reports published by over 9,000 companies spanning the last 30 years, and across all key sectors and countries, categorised by the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The database is the first to distinguish intention from action, providing an objective assessment of the financial and sustainability performance implications of corporate behaviours.

The analysis of sustainability initiatives allows both organisations and stakeholders to make informed decisions on the type of initiatives that are more likely to create value for the various stakeholder groups. Analysis of the value creation implications of different types of initiatives can, in turn, ignite learning for organisations and stakeholders on how to best address crucial sustainability issues in a way that creates value for all.

Dataset development

Using the most advanced linguistic analytical techniques, such as machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP), we identify and codify sustainability initiatives worldwide from public and private sectors, including institutions, cities, and universities. Through our analysis of the data we aim to answer the following questions:

What the company has implemented or is currently implementing

Who is taking action and their background (e.g. sector-level). This allows for further inquiries based on more aggregate data (sector or sector-country reports)

Why the initiative is being pursued. Specifically, the sustainable development goal (SDG) and societal issues identified as the rationale for the initiative

How the initiatives are implemented, both in terms of internal changes and which stakeholders are involved

The following research activites are informed by our dataset

The Leonardo Centre is developing a model to determine the relationship between sustainability behaviours, financial and sustainability performance. Once a relationship between initiatives and performance is verified, an optimal portfolio of sustainability initiatives that maximises both financial and non-financial performance will be derived.

The modelling and optimisation exercises can be carried out at the corporate, industry, and country level in order to inform strategy formulation and promote best practices in these three realities.

To establish and validate the behavioural objective scoring model proposed, our iterative analysis evaluates the capacity of internally developed behavioural scores to both adequately capture the corporate sustainable behaviour of a firm and explain its stock risk, return models, and financial performance.

In particular, the scores derived using the Leonardo dataset are compared to existing ESG scores, which are widely adopted across different sectors and countries, but which still rely on some subjective assessments of a firm’s behaviour.

The Leonardo Centre is developing global sustainability indices at corporate, sector and country level, to aid policy formulation and business strategy decisions. These indices are constructed using an objective, initiative-level analysis of sustainable behaviour and are designed to reflect financial and non-financial performance.

Using the dataset, the Leonardo Centre produces corporate, industry, and country-level reports which provide an analysis of the degree of maturity and effectiveness of transformational efforts toward more sustainable models. The reports can also offer a robust evolutionary assessment of the status of an organisation, industry and country, through the analysis of its behaviour, i.e. sustainability initiatives.