30 ESG and Sustainable Investing Statistics

SustainFi   Updated July 2nd, 2022

1. Global ESG assets under management (AUM)

Global sustainable fund assets1 reached $2.7 trillion in December 2021.

Morningstar Direct

ESG fund assets continue to grow dramatically, driven by new product launches, money inflows, and fund re-brandings. According to Morningstar Direct, global ESG fund assets increased to $2.74 trillion in December 2021, up from $1.65 trillion at the end of 2020 and $1.28 trillion at the end of 2019.

2. U.S. ESG assets under management (AUM)

In the U.S., ESG fund assets under management reached $357 billion in December 2021, up from $236 billion at the end of 2020.

Morningstar Direct

According to Morningstar Direct, sustainably managed assets in the U.S. reached $357 billion in December 2021, up 51% from the end of 2020. The growth was driven by a strong interest in ESG issues following the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. It also helped that ESG funds outperformed conventional funds in the first quarter of 2020.

3. European ESG assets under management (AUM)

In Europe, where the ESG industry is more developed, sustainable funds had $2,231 billion in assets as of December 2021.

Morningstar Direct

4. Growth in ESG fund assets

In 2021, U.S. sustainable funds attracted nearly $70 billion in new assets.

Morningstar Direct

The growth in sustainable assets in 2021 was an increase over 2020 (when U.S. sustainable funds attracted $51.1 billion in assets), 2019 ($21.4 billion), and 2018 ($5.4 billion in assets).

BlackRock has aggressively marketed its iShares family of ESG ETFs, which helped the growth of passive funds. The iShares U.S. ESG portfolio now exceeds 30 ETFs.

5. The number of ESG funds worldwide

The number of global ESG funds grew to 5,932 as of December 2021, up from 4,153 at the end of 2020.

Morningstar Direct

6. The number of ESG funds in the U.S.

The number of U.S. ESG funds grew to 584 as of December 2021, up from 392 at the end of 2020.

Morningstar Direct

This increase includes funds that changed their investment focus to become sustainable, such as the $1.4 billion USAA Sustainable World Fund. In the U.S., 45 sustainable funds launched in the fourth quarter of 2021.

7. The top 10 ESG ETFs in the U.S.

The top ten U.S. ESG exchange-traded funds (ETFs) had over $60 billion under management in March 2022.

SustainFi
FundTickerAssets ($bn)Fund Type
iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETFESGU23.3Equity - U.S.
iShares ESG MSCI EAFE ETF
ESGD7.0Equity - Developed Markets
Vanguard ESG US Stock ETFESGV6.0Equity - U.S.
iShares ESG Aware MSCI EM ETF
ESGE5.8Equity - Emerging Markets
iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETFSUSA3.8Equity - U.S.
iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETFDSI3.7Equity - U.S.
iShares ESG MSCI USA Leaders ETFSUSL3.6Equity - U.S.
Xtrackers MSCI USA Leaders ETFUSSG3.0Equity - U.S.
Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF
VSGX
3.0Equity - Global
BlackRock U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF
LCTU
1.4Equity - U.S.

Source: SustainFi. Data as of 3/18/2022

8. The top ten ESG mutual funds in the U.S.

The largest ten U.S. sustainable mutual funds managed over $95 billion in assets in March 2022.

SustainFi
FundTickerAssets ($bn)Fund Type
Parnassus Core Equity Fund
PRBLX
29.7Equity - U.S.
Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund
VFTAX
15.2Equity - U.S.
Parnassus Mid-Cap Fund
PARMX
7.6
Equity - U.S.
TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund
TICRX
7.0
Equity - U.S.
TIAA-CREF Core Impact Bond Fund
TSBRX
6.8Fixed Income - U.S.
Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund
BIAWX
6.4Equity - U.S.
Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund
PNOPX
6.0Equity - U.S.
Calvert Equity Fund
CSIEX
5.8Equity - U.S.
DFA U.S. Sustainability Core 1 Portfolio
DFSIX
5.5Equity - U.S.
Parnassus Endeavor Fund
PARWX

5.3Equity - U.S.

Source: SustainFi. Data as of 3/18/2022

9. Actively vs. passively managed ESG fund assets

Actively managed funds hold 60% of sustainable assets, but their market share has shrunk from 80% three years ago.

Morningstar Direct

10. ESG fund assets by geography

Global ESG fund assets are concentrated in Europe, which represented $2.2 trillion or 81% of sustainable assets under management in December 2021. The U.S. is second at $357 billion or 13%.

Morningstar Direct

11. ESG funds by geography

As of December 2021, Europe also had the highest number of ESG funds (4,461 funds or 75% of the world’s total), followed by the U.S. (534 funds or 9%).

Morningstar Direct

12. Sustainable bond issuance

Sustainable bond issuance exceeded $1.6 trillion in 2021. The total amount issued to date is greater than $4 trillion.

Bloomberg

13. The number of alternative ESG funds

In 2020, there were 905 alternative ESG funds.

US SIF

Alternative funds include hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, REIT, and property funds. Their number increased from 780 in 2018.

14. 401(k) assets in ESG or sustainable funds

In 2019, only 0.1% of 401(k) assets were invested in sustainable funds, and only 3% of 401(k) plans offered an ESG fund.

Plan Sponsor Council of America

15. The percentage of investors interested in investing sustainably

79% of U.S. individual investors and 99% of millennial investors are interested in sustainable investing. 

Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

A 2021 study found that 79% of U.S. investors and 99% of millennials are interested in sustainable investing. Morgan Stanley surveyed 800 people with at least $100,000 in investable assets.

According to the same study, 50% of all investors and 75% of millennial investors have made or plan to make investment changes in response to social justice movements.

16. Investor concerns about ESG investing

70% of investors believe that sustainable investing implies a financial trade-off.

Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

Paradoxically, 83% of millennials believe that there is a trade-off, more than any other age group. More investors believe there is a trade-off compared to the 2019 survey (70% vs. 64%), despite evidence to the contrary. Concerns about performance are cited as the biggest barrier to investing sustainably.

17. The number of ESG rating agencies

Over 100 organizations produce sustainability ratings. 

Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR)

Some of the best-known are Sustainalytics (owned by Morningstar), MSCI, FTSE, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, and Vigeo Eiris.

18. Sustainably managed assets in the U.S.

Total US-domiciled assets under management (AUM) using sustainable investing strategies grew from $12 trillion at the start of 2018 to $17.1 trillion at the start of 2020, an increase of 42 percent.

US SIF

Note that the US SIF uses a survey-based methodology, including more sustainable AUM than Morningstar.

19. Percentage of assets managed sustainably

Sustainably managed assets represent 1/3 of U.S. assets under professional management.

US SIF

20. The most important ESG issue

Climate change is the most important ESG issue for money managers, representing $4.2 trillion of sustainably managed assets.

US SIF

21. Investors who know about sustainable investing

Only 25% of investors have heard a lot or a fair amount about sustainable investing.

Gallup

22. How many investors are interested in buying ESG funds?

Nearly 50% of investors are interested in buying sustainable funds.

Gallup

23. How many investors want to include ESG funds in 401(k)?

70% of investors who are employed would definitely or probably include sustainable funds in their 401(k) if their plan offered them.

Gallup

24. Do investors prioritize ESG or financial returns?

Most investors prioritize returns over ESG considerations.

Gallup

78% of investors are concerned about potential investment returns, but only 41% look into corporate governance and 35% research the company’s environmental record. Only 13% of investors do a lot of research on any ESG factor.

25. Do female or male investors care more about the “S” in ESG?

Female investors are somewhat more likely to care about the social values of the companies in their portfolios.

Gallup

42% of female investors (vs. 35% of male investors) think about the social values of the companies they select.

26. Who does values-based investing resonate with?

Values-based investing resonates with two-thirds of investors.

Gallup

63% of investors say they are likely to purchase stocks or funds that align with their values. 68% want to avoid stocks that contradict their values.

27. Fees earned from ESG

The global asset management industry earned $1.8 billion in fees from sustainable funds in 2021, up from $1.1 billion in 2020.

Morningstar

28. Companies that talk about ESG

Over 25% of S&P 500 companies mentioned ESG on their Q4 2021 earnings call.

Factset

29. Projected ESG assets under management

ESG assets are expected to hit $53 trillion in 2025, a third of global assets under management.

Bloomberg Intelligence

30. Green bond issuance in 2021

Green bond issuance hit $517 billion in 2021.

Climate Bonds Market Intelligence

1 The Morningstar sustainable fund universe includes funds that claim to have a sustainability objective or use binding ESG criteria when selecting investments. The universe excludes funds that only employ an exclusionary approach, such as screening out tobacco or controversial weapons. The universe also excludes money market funds, feeder funds, and funds of funds.