Regional SIFs launch Global Sustainable Investment Alliance with major ESG assets report

Launch report estimates total ESG assets at $13.6trn

A group of regional social investment forums (SIFs) have launched their new global alliance with a report estimating that some $13.6trn of total investment assets incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors to some degree.

The Global Sustainable Investment Review 2012 is the first output for the SIFs’ new Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA), whose secretariat is hosted by the US SIF, the Washington-based Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

“The mission of GSIA is to deepen the impact and visibility of sustainable investment membership organizations at the global level,” it says. The new alliance’s home page is here.

“Our vision is a world where sustainable investment is integrated into financial systems and the investment chain and where all regions of the world have coverage by vigorous membership based institutions that represent and advance the sustainable investment community.”
Despite the closer coordination between the groups, it is understood there is no appetite for the creation of a global SIF. The development comes as a new SIF in India is set for launch this week in Mumbai and a Latin American group is also in the works.
The report itself finds that some 89%, or $12.1trn, of the assets are institutional – and that ESG-linked assets represent 21.8% of the total assets managed professionally.

The report collates data from the regional investment forums from Europe, the US, Canada, Asia, Japan, Australia and Africa. Responsible Investor reported in April last year that the groups were planning a coordinated report.

“The GSIA gives a global voice to the movement for sustainable and responsible investment, articulating our ambitions to use investment to create a fairer and more sustainable world,” says Eugene Ellmen, the former Executive Director at Canada’s Social Investment Organization.“By creating this Alliance, the family of SIFs provide a global basis to share best practices in their wide diversity of Sustainable Investment solutions, in order to advance both the debate and the implementation,” added Giuseppe van der Helm Executive Director at the Dutch SIF, the VBDO.

The report includes all major asset classes, from public equities and fixed income to hedge funds and microfinance.

The most common sustainable investing strategy used globally is negative/exclusionary screening ($8.3trn in assets). This is followed by integration ($6.2trn) and corporate engagement/shareholder action ($4.7trn).

Norms-based screening is put at $3trn, although it is only found on a large scale in Europe. Positive/best-in-class screening stands at just over $1trn, while impact investing and sustainability themed investments are at $89bn and $83bn respectively.

The report comes amid changes at the top ranks of some of the groups. UKSIF CEO Penny Shepherd has announced she is stepping down, the SIO’s Ellmen has moved to Oikocredit and RIAA’s long-standing Executive Director Louise O’Halloran has also left recently.

Global Sustainable Investment Alliance members:

  • Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA)
  • European Sustainable Investment Forum (Eurosif)
  • Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA)
  • Social Investment Organization (Canada)
  • UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association
  • US Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment
  • VBDO (Netherlands)