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The Benchmark that Changed the World: Celebrating 20 Years of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2019, we reflect on its origins, its impact on the market and more.
BY Mona Naqvi

INTRODUCTION


The year 1999 gave the world the euro, The Matrix, and the world’s first ever global sustainability benchmark—the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). The product of a landmark collaboration between S&P Dow Jones Indices and SAM (now RobecoSAM), the DJSI pioneered sustainable indexing and has shaped corporate sustainability practices ever since. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the DJSI in 2019, we reflect on its origins, its impact on the market, and the possible future of the sustainable investing landscape. Inclusion in the DJSI is seen as a badge of honor by sustainability champions around the world. Perhaps no other benchmark has had as profound an impact on the behavior of companies, as they seek to secure a coveted spot in the world-renowned DJSI World each year. Today, there are over 37,000 sustainable indices available worldwide, and with a 60% increase in the number between 2017 and 2018 alone, the industry is rapidly transforming. Amid this proliferation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) benchmarking tools, the DJSI continues to make waves as the evolving global standard for benchmarking corporate sustainability performance, even two decades later.

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