Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Sustainable Platform?   +

Sustainable Platform is an Australian company that provides sustainability information on company contribution to sustainable development.

Our data scientists use our sustainability analysis methodologies, to help find companies that are best contributing to UN sustainable development goals.

Find out about our team here.


What are the Basic Needs categories and why are they important to sustainable development? +

In 1987, the UN Division for Sustainable Development defined ‘sustainable development’ to be "development that meets the [basic] needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

It contains within it two concepts:

  1. The concept of ‘[basic] needs’, particularly the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  2. The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organisation on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.

We use these identified basic needs to help you select companies to invest in:

  1. Clothing
  2. Communications
  3. Energy
  4. Food
  5. Health
  6. Housing
  7. Knowledge & Education
  8. Transport
  9. Waste Management (or Sanitation)
  10. Water

When you invest in companies that support these Basic Needs, you provide them with the financial capital to work toward sustainable development and make an impact.

Sustainable Platform considers the environment, social equity and corporate governance performance criteria of companies, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. We focus on publicly available company and government data that is measurable, quantifiable and factual. We take the fluff out of sustainability analysis, and don't get sidetracked by greenwashing, which is important if you want to make a real difference.


What are Controversial Industries? +

In 1987, the UN Division for Sustainable Development defined ‘sustainable development’ to be "development that meets the [basic] needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

It contains within it two concepts:

  1. The concept of ‘[basic] needs’, particularly the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  2. The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organisation on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.

Controversial industries incorporate products and services that have been known to take away from peoples’ basic needs. They carry either reputational, environmental or social risks that many investors find concerning. The controversial industry list does not mean that all companies providing these products and services are "bad". For example, a gas company provides heat and energy that we use to run hospitals. Similarly the nuclear industry is required for some medical products. We simply allow you to exclude industries so you’re not supporting companies and activities that you do not want to invest in. The Controversial Industry list is:

  1. Adult Industries
  2. Alcohol
  3. Defence Contracting
  4. Deforestation
  5. Fossil Fuels
  6. Gambling
  7. Genetic Modification
  8. Nuclear (including uranium mining and production)
  9. Tobacco


How many companies should I have in my portfolio? +

In general the more companies' stocks you have in your portfolio, the more diversified your portfolio will be. In theory that means you reduce the volatility and your risks of losing your investment.

The number of stocks you wish to view is up to you. We provide the list of companies that satisfy your sustainability criteria, but do not provide financial advice, so any investment decisions are for your information or are to discuss with your financial advisor or broker.


What should I choose as the minimum company market capitalization? +

Market Capitalization (Market Cap) is calculated by multiplying the number of a company's shares by its stock price

A "small market cap" is considered $300 million to $2 billion. Mid, is $2 billion to $10 billion. Large is $10 billion or more. The market cap allows investors to gauge the growth versus risk potential of a company. We use local currency for each country to determine what is small, medium and large.

The smaller the market cap you set, the higher your potential for growth, but in general these companies are less well established, so this can lead to higher risk. We are not financial advisors so the level of market cap you choose is entirely up to you or your financial advisor. It is also important to recognise that this filter can lead to finding companies that have increased in value in the past, while removing companies that have reduced in value. This can lead to selection bias. In order to find companies that have the criteria you want now, there is no other way to filter and show the results without this bias.


What should I choose as my level of market risk? +

According to market theory, over time, the higher the risk, the higher the returns. We don't suggest that market risk in the future is represented by past stock price volatility. Because it is a standard measure for risk used widely, we allow users to filter the past stock price volatility of companies they select.


What are environmental fines? +

Environmental fines are a form of punishment or deterrent for breaches of Australian state environmental legislation and US federal environmental legislation.

Fines are typically applied where the scale of the environmental harm or legislative breach is significant, having an impact on the environment (flora and fauna), property or people (WA Dept. of Environmental Regulation), or due to non-compliance with previous sanctions. The amount of the fine is proportionate to the seriousness, harm and nature of the offence (NSW Environmental Protection Authority), and whether it is a civil or criminal offence (US Environmental Protection Agency).


What are corporate fines? +

Corporate crime are acts committed by companies against members of the public or other companies. For example; tax evasion, health and safety violations, and discriminatory practices against employees (Australian Institute of Criminology).

Labour rights require companies to pay fair wages and have good working conditions, human rights require companies not to discriminate and to provide equal opportunity, and environmental rights require companies to look after the environment (AHRC). Companies are required to not engage with bribery and corruption.

Fines are applied for breaches of legislation and companies' duties.


Do we use the value of the fines? +

The Sustainable Platform database includes over 12,000 companies listed in Australia, the USA and Europe. Most countries, and even states and regions within countries, have their own environmental and corporate regulations, and procedures for applying sanctions.

For this reason, rather than consider the value of the fines, we consider the number of fines a company has received.


Where does the data come from? +

We get data from publicly available government department and company reports, such as those registered with ASIC and the SEC, and state environmental departments. Where possible, we seek information directly from the companies.


How are companies in the portfolio chosen? +

Companies are chosen based on how closely they match the criteria you have selected. For example, if you have chosen Water as a category, then companies with the highest proportion of sales related to providing water are selected first. When you selection is very broad, companies are selected based on the proportion of sales in basic need categories with no to low sales in controversial industries, as well as the other criteria such as number of fines.


How is performance measured? +

Performance is calculated from the stock price data based on the selection of sustainability criteria you select. We do not select stocks based on financial performance. Instead we calculate the 5-year return on the portfolio you have chosen. Unfortunately there is no time machine, and as such selection bias exists in any portfolio. This means that companies which no longer exist cannot be incorporated. Similarly when you filter by market capitalization (market cap), companies that have this minimum level of market cap are chosen, which can lead to a performance that may be different to the actual if you had gone back in time and used the same criteria to select a portfolio.


Privacy Policy and Complaints +

In the course of interacting with Sustainable Platform, you may share personal information. We are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy.

Our Privacy Policy, which follows the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), sets out our policies and procedures for collecting, using and disclosing information provided to us by users of Sustainable Platform’s products and services.

We hope you never need to, but the Privacy Policy also sets out how to make a complaint.