In early 2013, the Global Sustainable Investment Association (GSIA) released the Global Sustainable Investment Review 2012, the first report to collate the results from the market studies of regional sustainable investment forums for Europe, the United States, Canada, Asia, Japan, Australasia and Africa. In the period since the launch of the inaugural study, the global sustainable investment market has continued to grow both in absolute and relative terms, rising from $13.3 trillion1 at the outset of 2012 to $21.4 trillion at the start of 2014, and from 21.5 percent to 30.2 percent of the professionally managed assets in the regions covered.
Over this two-year period, the fastest growing region has been the United States, followed by Canada and Europe. These three regions are also the largest regions in terms of assets, accounting for 99 percent of global sustainable investing assets.
Sustainable investing is an investment approach that considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in portfolio selection and management. For the purpose of this global report and for articulating our shared work in the broadest way, GSIA uses an inclusive definition of sustainable investing, without drawing distinctions between this and related terms such as responsible investing, socially responsible investing and impact investing. These are collectively referred to as sustainable investing or SRI.
The largest sustainable investment strategy globally is negative screening/exclusions ($14.4 trillion), followed by ESG integration ($12.9 trillion) and corporate engagement/shareholder action ($7.0 trillion). Negative screening is the largest strategy in Europe, while ESG integration now dominates in the United States, Australia/New Zealand and Asia in asset-weighted terms. Corporate engagement and shareholder action is the dominant strategy in Canada.
Impact investing is a small but vibrant segment of the broader sustainable and responsible investing universe in all the markets studied. GSIA defines impact investing as targeted investments, typically made in private markets, aimed at solving social or environmental problems. Community investing, whereby capital is specifically directed to traditionally underserved individuals or communities, is included in this category, as is finance that is provided to businesses with an explicit social or environmental purpose.