Top ESG and Sustainable Investing Statistics and Facts

SustainFi July 27, 2021

1. Global sustainable fund assets1 reached $2.24 trillion in June 2021.

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 $2.24 trillion in June 2021 from $1.65 trillion at the end of 2020 and $1.28 trillion at the end of 2019.

2. In the U.S., ESG fund assets under management reached $304 billion in June 2021, up from $236 billion at the end of 2020.

According to Morningstar Direct, sustainably managed assets in the U.S. reached $304 billion in June 2021, up 29% from the end of 2020 and 121% from the end of 2019. 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. In 2020, U.S. sustainable funds attracted $51.1 billion in new assets.

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

According to Morningstar, 90% of new assets went to equity funds, and 70% went to passive funds. In contrast, in 2019, 50% of inflows went to passive funds and 50% to active funds.

BlackRock has aggressively marketed its iShares family of passive ESG ETFs, which helped the growth of passive funds. In 2020, iShares launched 13 ESG funds to add to 14 existing ESG ETFs.

4. The number of global ESG funds grew to 4,929 as of June 2021, up from 4,153 at the end of 2020. (Source: Morningstar Direct)

5. The number of U.S. ESG funds grew to 437 as of June 2021, up from 392 at the end of 2020.

This increase includes 24 funds that changed their investment focus to become sustainable, such as the $1.4 billion USAA Sustainable World Fund. (Source: Morningstar Direct)

6. Top ten U.S. ESG exchange-traded funds (ETFs) had over $55 billion under management in June 2021.

FundTickerAssets ($bn)Fund Type
iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETFESGU19.2Equity - U.S.
iShares ESG Aware MSCI EM ETF
ESGE7.8Equity - Emerging Markets
ESGD6.1Equity - Developed Markets
Vanguard ESG US Stock ETFESGV4.8Equity - U.S.
Xtrackers MSCI USA Leaders ETFUSSG3.7Equity - U.S.
iShares ESG MSCI USA Leaders ETFSUSL3.7Equity - U.S.
iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETFSUSA3.5Equity - U.S.
iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETFDSI3.4Equity - U.S.
Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF
2.3Equity - Global
BlackRock U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF
1.4Equity - U.S.

Source: SustainFi Research. Data as of 06/30/2021

7. The largest ten U.S. sustainable mutual funds managed over $94 billion in assets in June 2021.

FundTickerAssets ($bn)Fund Type
Parnassus Core Equity Fund
Equity - U.S.
Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund
13.8Equity - U.S.
Parnassus Mid-Cap Fund
Equity - U.S.
TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund
Equity - U.S.
TIAA-CREF Core Impact Bond Fund
Fixed Income - U.S.
Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund
6.5Equity - U.S.
Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund
6.0Equity - U.S.
Calvert Equity Fund
5.9Equity - U.S.
DFA U.S. Sustainability Core 1 Portfolio
5.2Equity - U.S.
Parnassus Endeavor Fund

5.0Equity - U.S.

Source: SustainFi Research. Data as of 06/30/2021

8. 71 new ESG funds launched in the U.S. in 2020. (Source: Morningstar Direct)

9. Global ESG fund assets are concentrated in Europe, which represented $1.83 trillion or 82% of sustainable assets under management in June 2021. The U.S. is second at $304 billion or 14%.

10. As of June 2020, Europe also had the highest number of ESG funds (3,730 funds or 76% of the world’s total), followed by the U.S. (437 funds or 9%).

11. As of June 2021, 60% of ESG assets in the U.S. are actively managed, but the share of active funds is shrinking rapidly.

As of June 2021, 60% of U.S. ESG assets are in active funds, but their share has decreased from 82% in 2018.

12. According to the US SIF Foundation, in 2020, there were 905 alternative ESG funds.

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

13. 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. (Source: Plan Sponsor Council of America)

14. 85% of U.S. individual investors are interested in sustainable investing. 

A 2019 Morgan Stanley study found that 85% of individual U.S. investors and 95% of millennials are interested in sustainable investing.

15. According to the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR), well over 100 organizations produce sustainability ratings. 

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

16. According to the US SIF, the 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.

This represents 33%, or one in three dollars, of the $51.4 trillion in total US assets under professional management. Note that the US SIF uses a survey-based methodology, including more sustainable AUM than Morningstar.

17. According to the US SIF, climate change is the most important ESG issue considered by money managers, representing $4.2 trillion of sustainably managed assets.

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.