This is the sixth year in a row that Novozymes has topped the list.
"It means a lot to us to top the index for the sixth year in a row," said Anna Lise Mortensen Grandjean, vice president for sustainability development and stakeholder communications for the leading enzyme maker.
"Sustainable development plays a key role in our business strategy of delivering sustainable biological solutions, so it's gratifying that others too think that we're doing the right thing."
The annual review by the DJSI family is based on an assessment of corporate economic, environmental and social performance, and examines issues such as corporate governance, employee development, climate change, supply chain standards and labour practices.
The results form the basis for ranking 317 companies in the global index (World) and 156 companies in the pan-European index (STOXX).
Around 40 per cent of the overall score is made up of industry specific criteria that also include raw material sourcing, management of GMOs, strategy for emerging markets and brand management. A strong showing on the index can therefore be an important factor in attracting ethically minded investors and consumers.
This is something that will only increase in importance. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, consumers are increasingly conscious about which companies have been quickest to adapt to more sustainable practices.
Exploitative sourcing is now a mainstream issue, while the dramatic growth of fair trade is pulling food consumption out of the cost-is-all bracket, with consumers prepared to pay more for guarantees of fair labour practices and sustainable sourcing. Products marked 'natural' or 'organic' are flying off the shelves, with fair trade sales in the UK, alone, growing by more than 40 per cent a year.
"Sustainable businesses balance their economic interests with the need to be socially and environmentally responsible," said Sunny Misser, PricewaterhouseCoopers global leader of sustainable business solutions.
DSM meanwhile retained its leadership position in the Chemical Industry sector. This is the third year in a row that the ingredients giant has been named the worldwide sustainability leader in the chemical industry.
The company said it had been able to retain its number one position because it continued to successfully integrate sustainability into its business strategy.
"We are very pleased that we have been able to retain our top position for the third year in a row," said Peter Elverding, chairman of DSM's managing board. "It is a clear recognition of our performance and transparent reporting in the field of sustainability and our ambition to be a sustainability leader in the industry.
"I especially welcome the attention that has been given to our efforts in white biotechnology, because DSM is of the opinion that innovation is key to sustainable development."