Plans are underway to launch a dedicated sustainability index for Korea. Sam, a sustainability investing specialist, and index provider Dow Jones Indexes and the Korea Productivity Center (KPC) -- the agency tasked to increase productivity within Korean industry -- are working on the index with the goal of completing it before the end of the year.

The Dow Jones Sustainability Korea Index is scheduled to go live in the fourth quarter of 2009 and will be designed to track the sustainability leaders among Korea's largest 200 companies by free-float market capitalisation.

The announcement of this initiative follows the recent establishment of Korea's presidential commission for green growth and the approval of a new "Low Carbon and Green Growth Bill" by Korea's cabinet at the end of February.

Like all Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, components for this benchmark will be selected based on Sam's comprehensive analysis of economic, environmental and social performance. Covering a variety of issues such as corporate governance, risk management, branding, climate change mitigation, supply chain standards and human capital, the analysis reflects the growing importance investors attribute to sustainability criteria around the globe. Invitations for participation in Sam's annual sustainability assessment will be sent to the companies in early April.

Dow Jones Indexes will calculate and disseminate the new benchmark while KPC will promote the index among Korean corporations and investors.

The announcement of the new index coincides with a growing recognition among asset owners, regulators and policymakers worldwide that financial markets need to shift their focus from short-term to long-term thinking.

"We are convinced that sustainability has to become an integral part of (economic) development and that financial markets are an essential player in that context," says Chun-Seon Lee, managing director of KPC. "Providing markets with a solid and thoroughly researched benchmark is an essential step towards this objective."

The new Dow Jones Sustainability Korea Index will allow market participants to reflect on the sustainability of any market momentum by offering a transparent and reliable benchmark of the country's sustainability leaders, says John Prestbo, editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes.

Planning for the Dow Jones Sustainability Korea Index comes after Sam and Dow Jones Indexes launched the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific and the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific 40 indexes last month. With the addition of Asia-Pacific benchmarks, the sustainability series now comprises dedicated indexes for each of the three major investment regions -- Asia-Pacific, Europe and Americas. Launched in 1999 by Dow Jones Indexes and Sam, the sustainability indexes are the longest running global sustainability benchmarks and are today used by investors and asset managers in 16 countries.