RI Research investigates knowledge gaps in ESG and responsible investment and highlights sustainability challenges where the role of investors and the financial markets could be critical in bringing about transformatory change.

RI Research uses a combination of broad or targeted market surveys and applied analytics to report on where financial actors are in their thinking and action on these key subjects, and where related business and financial risks and opportunities lie.


Current research projects

  • COP26 & The EU Sustainable Finance Agenda 'The Starting Line For The Next Decade'
  • Summary

    Two major developments are taking place in 2021 which will profoundly influence responsible investment, COP26 and the continuing development of the EU sustainable finance agenda.

    This free to access special report features practical guidance and opinion about how these developments impact the investment decisions and reporting responsibilities of asset owners, investment managers and service providers.

    The report provides exclusive macro-regulatory overviews of developments combined with deep-dives into specific regions, investment themes and asset classes.


Past research projects

  • ESG - Do you or don’t you? In partnership with UBS.
  • Summary

    Unquantifiable risks and shifting regulations are just some of the problems facing institutional investors. Some see the integration of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance factors) in the investment process as part of the answer, others believe just the opposite. Yet, no one knows how many are actively taking ESG into account (or intend to).

    Responsible Investor, in association with UBS Asset Management, aims to answer this question by investigating drivers and barriers to ESG integration, as well as highlighting best practice globally.

    This research initiative comprises an intriguing cohort with over half of the 613 asset owner respondents coming from the corporate pension space and 63% not being signatories to the UN PRI.

    See the results here:
  • Sustainable Finance Careers: the first survey of ESG and professional development.
  • Summary

    Responsible Investor, in partnership with the Sustainable Finance Network, launched the first survey of the ESG and sustainable finance careers ecosystem to find out:

    “What is the standing of the sustainable finance and ESG community within the wider investment world?”

    The report presents a snapshot of:

    • Comparable wages across the industry
    • Differences in pay by gender
    • How diverse is the sustainable finance industry?
    • How seriously do employers take their commitments to sustainability?

    We think sustainability professionals should be properly valued for their work and have access to excellent opportunities for professional development.

    More than 820 Sustainable Finance and ESG professionals took part in the survey. The full report was published in November 2019.


    The full report will be published in November 2019.

  • Investors and the Blue Economy: Ocean risk or opportunity?
  • Summary

     A project in collaboration with the European Commission, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEPFI) and WWF, and in partnership with Credit Suisse.

    Are the world's investors aware of ocean-related risks to their portfolios? Are they acting on the opportunities provided by this emerging investment topic?

    The ocean economy is expected to grow at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, and the economic value of global ocean assets is estimated to already be at over US$ 24 trillion, making the Blue Economy the seventh-largest economy by GDP globally. However, with ocean health and impacts tightly linked to the threats of climate change and other anthropogenic threats, such as over-fishing, habitat destruction and pollution, a large amount of capital is at risk.

    This high-impact research project is intended to gauge investor interest in systematic progress on SDG 14 - Life below water, and opportunities around the Blue Economy.

    Surveying leading global investors on the 'investability' of ocean-related sectors, the research will provide a unique insight into the present and future state of investor action on SDG 14.


    The full report will be published in January 2020.

  • Unearthing investor action on biodiversity
  • Summary

    Biodiversity is of increasing focus in 2021 as the world recognises that without significant steps towards change, it is losing animal and plant species at an alarming rate. However, are investors taking action to manage biodiversity risks and are they able to make investments supporting nature and wildlife? How confident are they in this area?

    With around half of the world’s GDP highly or moderately dependent on nature, it is evident that biodiversity is an issue investors should engage with. Our survey of leading global asset managers and asset owners provides new insight into investor interest, understanding and efforts to address biodiversity in their portfolios and strategies.

    This research project explores the extent to which investors are tackling biodiversity risks and the impacts of their investments on biodiversity. It also seeks to highlight what is needed to accelerate private investments towards conserving nature.

  • ESG in manager selection: how does ESG fit into the relationship between asset owners and their investment managers?
  • Summary

    To aid asset owners in their evaluation and selection of managers and help fund managers to better understand the ESG requirements of their clients, Responsible Investor launched a survey examining the relationship between asset owners and their asset managers related to ESG awareness and integration based around two headline questions:


    • What criteria do asset owners find most important when selecting and monitoring their managers, and how does ESG fit into this process (if at all)?
    • How do asset managers address the client demand for ESG in their processes and reporting?
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