If you cannot find an answer to your question below, please ask us via our contact form.
- How can SPOTT help you?
- What makes SPOTT different from other initiatives?
- How does ZSL select companies for assessment?
- What does a SPOTT assessment score mean?
- What further information should SPOTT users seek?
- What are the benefits of greater ESG transparency through public disclosure?
- How have assessments changed over time?
- How do you verify implementation of company commitments?
- How can I access the data?
- What is SPOTT’s impact?
1. How can SPOTT help you?
SPOTT supports constructive industry engagement by investors, ESG analysts, buyers, and other supply chain stakeholders. SPOTT assessments can help identify areas where a company is making continuous improvement and other areas where engagement may be needed if there are gaps in company policy frameworks and reporting. For more information, see our About page, and the SPOTT Manual available on our Training Hub.
2. What makes SPOTT different from other initiatives?
SPOTT’s in-depth indicator frameworks are designed to align with – and exceed – the requirements set out by other initiatives. Therefore, our rigorous approach to data collection provides a deeper insight into the ESG issues surrounding the practices and operations of individual companies.
SPOTT engages with companies during the assessment process, enabling and encouraging companies to make further public disclosures and thus increase their transparency.
In addition to our annual assessments, SPOTT provides supplementary information year-round via the media monitors for palm oil, timber and pulp, and natural rubber. This tool flags articles concerning assessed companies in relation to ESG issues.
SPOTT also makes all the assessment data available to download via the free, customisable Dashboard.
3. How does ZSL select companies for assessment?
SPOTT assesses companies operating in, and sourcing from, tropical forest landscapes due to their extremely high species diversity, their vital role in livelihoods, and their importance as carbon sinks and stores. We select companies of the greatest interest and impact in these landscapes given their operations and supply chain positions, as well as considering the needs of SPOTT users and if companies operate within priority geographies. SPOTT aims to assess companies at the parent company level where relevant, as we expect these companies to have policies in place which apply to all of their subsidiaries. For full details of our selection process, see our Methodology page.
4. What does a SPOTT assessment score mean?
A higher score on SPOTT indicates that the company is being relatively transparent about its operations, policies and commitments to ESG best practice. Some SPOTT indicators also consider the quality of policies and commitments, with higher scores awarded for more comprehensive policies. Higher scores may also reflect company reporting and externally verified information on implementation.
If a company receives a high score in its SPOTT assessment, this does not necessarily mean the company is itself environmentally responsible – just that it is being more transparent in its ESG reporting than other companies with a lower score. For more information about SPOTT scores, see our Methodology page.
5. What further information should SPOTT users seek?
We urge SPOTT users to perform wider due diligence on companies, using SPOTT as the starting point. Such due diligence activities could include direct engagement with companies; review of media coverage of company activities, and of reports and investigations by civil society on company operations; inspection of external audit reports; and consideration of available spatial data to identify environmental risks. For more on due diligence and verification, see our Methodology page.
6. What are the benefits of greater ESG transparency through public disclosure?
Transparency is key to build trust among a company’s stakeholders, ensure that risks are kept to a minimum and opportunities are multiplied – and as a result, that negative impacts are avoided, and positive impacts are boosted. SPOTT considers transparency to be a vital first step towards sustainability. By improving sustainability practices and transparency of reporting, companies can improve their reputation and provide assurance to interested stakeholders of their sustainability credentials. For more information, see the SPOTT Manual available on our Training Hub.
7. How have assessments changed over time?
SPOTT’s commodity scope and indicator frameworks have expanded considerably since the inaugural palm oil assessments of 24 companies in 2014. Timber and pulp assessments began in 2017, followed by natural rubber assessments in 2019. We now assess 100 palm oil, 100 timber and pulp, and 30 natural rubber companies.
The original indicator framework featuring 54 indicators has been significantly updated to cover a wider range of ESG issues, and companies are now assessed against over 175 sector-specific indicators. The frameworks also include indicators specific to key supply chain segments: palm oil growers, crushers, refiners, and traders; timber and pulp producers, processors, and traders; and natural rubber producers, processors, and manufacturers.
The scoring criteria have also been developed to reflect company reporting which has been externally verified. More information about the updates to SPOTT’s methodology in 2019 can be found here.
SPOTT regularly evaluates the indicator framework to ensure the inclusion of relevant ESG issues. New indicators are developed through an extensive consultation process that includes SPOTT’s Technical Advisory Groups commodity companies, industry experts and the public. The indicators evolve year on year to provide more insight into action by companies relating to ESG issues and to verify that company commitments translate into meaningful implementation on the ground.
8. How do you verify implementation of company commitments?
SPOTT scores are based on the availability of public policies and commitments, and evidence of implementation reported by the company or by external parties, rather than on-the-ground verification. Therefore, we urge SPOTT users to perform wider due diligence on companies, using SPOTT as the starting point.
To give users more information about implementation, we updated our methodology in 2019 to reflect company reporting on progress towards time-bound commitments, and whether company reporting and/or activities had been externally verified. For more information about external verification, see our Methodology page.
9. How can I access the data?
Assessment results are freely available on SPOTT. Commodity scorecard pages provide snapshots of each sector at the time of last assessment, including an overview of total scores, the breakdown of scores by disclosure type, the scores by supply chain segment, as well as background information about each company. A summary of the latest assessments by commodity is available to download from the commodity pages.
Company assessments can be accessed via links on the commodity page. These provide full details about how a company has scored against each indicator, with explanatory information and links to sources where applicable. CSV and PDF downloads of company assessments are available from the company pages for users who have registered for a free Dashboard account. A Dashboard account also enables users to access and download all past assessment data, bookmark groups of companies, and review trends in scores over time by commodity and company.
10.What is SPOTT’s impact ?
Since SPOTT launched in 2014, the number of assessed companies has increased almost ten-fold, from 24 to 230 in 2022. SPOTT-assessed companies control over 9 million ha dedicated to palm oil production, 37 million ha for forestry activities, and 1.5 million ha dedicated to natural rubber production.
Engagement with commodity companies is an important element of the SPOTT assessment cycle, as it gives companies the opportunity to provide feedback on their draft assessments and to make further disclosures before final assessments are published. Companies that engaged with SPOTT during the 2021 assessment cycles saw an average increase in score of between 2 and 7 percentage points (palm oil +2; timber and pulp +5; natural rubber +6.9) on pre-engagement scores due to making further disclosures.
Alongside these increases in scope and transparency, a growing number of stakeholders are using SPOTT, with over 1,740 registered Dashboard users by the end of 2021. Through our engagement with financial sector stakeholders we know an increasing number of financial institutions are using SPOTT data in their decision-making processes, and in their engagement with their investees.