(June 11): Switzerland, Singapore and the US are the most sustainable investment markets in the world and companies listed in these countries are delivering the most positive social and environmental benefits, research by Schroders has revealed.

Indonesia, Russia and Thailand were found to be the least sustainable markets, with companies in these countries having the most negative social and environmental impacts. Europe accounts for seven of the world’s top 10 most sustainable markets, while the least sustainable were resource-dependent emerging markets.

Companies which face the greatest social and regulatory pressures from governments and regulators tended to deliver the biggest social benefits.

The research was carried out using Schroders’ new tool SustainEx.

By industry, companies in the water, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sectors provide the greatest social benefits, whereas gambling companies created the biggest social costs, relative to their importance in stock markets.

Switzerland’s position at the top of the list was driven by the country’s high concentration of listed pharmaceutical and technology firms.

Andrew Howard, Schroders’ Head of Sustainable Research, says, “Companies and countries are coming under growing pressure from regulators and society to consider their impacts on challenges like climate change, pollution and obesity. As those social tensions become more acute, it’s becoming more likely that these social and environmental externalities will have tangible financial costs.

“It is therefore more important than ever that investors consider the social impacts of companies and portfolios, rather than relying purely on financial measures. How companies make money is as important as how much they make today”.

Schroders identified some of the world’s most sustainable investment markets and sectors by analysing the net benefits or costs companies create per US$100 of revenue they produce. The research looked at 9,000 companies and ranked the world’s main stock markets according to their overall impact on society, putting a dollar value on their social and environmental impacts.