At the core of the Leonardo Centre’s activities lies the GOLDEN dataset, a unique digital database of five million sustainability initiatives by 13,000 companies across all key sectors and countries, categorised by the UN sustainability 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.

Analytical focus on 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 value-enhancing way for all key stakeholder groups.

The dataset development is designed along the following research programmes with other research centres to study and experiment with corporations, policy makers, investors and civil society: 

Digital dataset development

The Leonardo Centre is building the first database on global corporate initiatives designed to address the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). It leverages the most advanced linguistic analytical techniques, such as machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to identify and codify all the sustainability initiatives worldwide from the public and private sectors, including institutions, cities, and universities.

These initiatives are screened through several sense-making lenses:

What the company has realised or is currently doing

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 organisational action is specified

How the initiatives are implemented, both in terms of internal change required and stakeholders involved in the implementation of the initiatives

Sustainability portfolio optimisation

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.

ESG comparative analysis

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.

Indices and rankings

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.

Sustainability reports

Leveraging the Leonardo-Golden sustainability dataset, the Leonardo Centre designs corporate, industry, and country-level reports. These reports are produced to provide an in-depth analysis of the quality, degree of maturity and effectiveness of transformational efforts towards 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.