Sustainable Investing: A Growing Trend Among Institutional Investors

As sustainable investing gains widespread acceptance, nine in ten institutional investors in North America and Europe are expected to invest sustainably or introduce sustainable investment practices within the next five years. In this article, we explore the latest study commissioned by AGF Investments and Coalition Greenwich, which provides insights into the projected surge of full integration of sustainable investing in the coming years. We dive into the priority themes targeted by institutional investors and the different motivations driving the adoption of sustainable investing practices in North America and Europe.

Growing Acceptance of Sustainable Investing

Discover the increasing interest in sustainable investing among institutional investors.

Sustainable investing has gained widespread acceptance among institutional investors in North America and Europe. The latest study commissioned by AGF Investments and Coalition Greenwich reflects the growing interest in this investment approach. It found that nine out of ten institutional investors in these regions expect to adopt sustainable investing or integrate sustainable investment practices in their portfolios within the next five years.

The positive response from institutional investors not only highlights the level of interest but also sets the stage for a remarkable surge in full integration of sustainable investing. The study predicts that sustainable investing across portfolios with full integration will triple in the next five years. In fact, the majority of European (63%) and North American (55%) institutional investors believe sustainability will be integrated across their entire portfolios within this timeframe.

Priority Themes in Sustainable Investing

Explore the focus areas within sustainable investing for institutional investors.

When it comes to sustainable investing, institutional investors are targeting specific themes to maximize their impact. The study reveals that 34% of respondents are prioritizing the energy transition as their primary focus. Addressing the challenges in the energy sector and supporting the transition to renewable and cleaner energy sources is paramount for these investors.

Another significant theme is water services, with many investors recognizing the importance of water scarcity and water management. More resiliency in our water systems is crucial, and sustainable investing aims to support the development and improvement of efficient water infrastructure.

Climate adaption is also a priority theme among institutional investors. As the effects of climate change become more evident, managing and adapting to these changes is vital. By investing in climate adaptation initiatives, institutions aim to create positive impact and mitigation strategies.

Motivations Driving Sustainable Investing

Learn about the different motivations behind the adoption of sustainable investing practices depending on the region.

Motivations driving sustainable investing differ across regions. North American investors primarily aim to improve their risk-adjusted returns while aligning their investments with their values. By integrating sustainability into their investment strategies, they strive for both strong financial performance and positive societal impact.

On the other hand, European investors have a strong focus on creating a positive impact through their investments. They are driven by a desire to contribute to sustainable development and address pressing socioeconomic and environmental issues. For these investors, financial returns are important, but they are also conscious of fostering positive change through their investment choices.

Challenges and the Need for a Consensus

Explore some of the challenges that the sustainable investing industry faces and the need for a consolidated framework.

While the momentum for sustainable investing continues to grow, the industry faces certain obstacles. One such challenge is the lack of consensus on how to accurately measure the impact of sustainable investments. As stakeholders continue to refine best practices, developing a reliable framework to assess and quantify the quantifiable impact becomes imperative.

Moreover, there is a need for greater clarity and stability in regulations governing sustainable investing. Continued uncertainty in regulatory environments creates a certain level of hesitation among investors, preventing the market from unlocking its full potential. Industry experts believe that collaboration between the industry and global regulators is crucial in establishing a solid foundation and encouraging further growth of sustainable investing.


Sustainable investing is experiencing a significant rise in interest and adoption among institutional investors. The study conducted by Coalition Greenwich and commissioned by AGF Investments highlights the growing acceptance of sustainable investing in North America and Europe. With nine out of ten institutional investors expected to invest sustainably or integrate sustainable investment practices within the next five years, the industry is projected to see a surge in full integration.

Investors are prioritizing themes such as the energy transition, water services, and climate adaption to maximize the impact of their investments. While motivations may differ between North American investors, who focus on risk-adjusted returns, and European investors, who prioritize positive impact, both are increasingly recognizing the importance of sustainable investing.

However, the sustainable investing industry still faces challenges, including the need for a consensus on measuring the impact of investments and regulatory uncertainties. Moving forward, collaboration between the industry and global regulators is crucial to establish a reliable framework and foster further growth of sustainable investing.

As sustainable investing continues to evolve, it provides opportunities for investors to align their values with their financial goals and contribute to positive change. By integrating sustainability into investment practices, institutional investors can create lasting impact while striving for strong financial performance.


What is sustainable investing?

Sustainable investing refers to the practice of selecting investments based on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. It involves considering not only potential financial returns but also the impact of investments on the environment and society.

Are sustainable investments profitable?

Sustainable investments have shown that they can generate competitive financial returns while also contributing to long-term value creation. Research has demonstrated a positive correlation between companies with strong ESG practices and financial performance.

How can institutional investors integrate sustainability into their portfolios?

Institutional investors can integrate sustainability into their portfolios by considering ESG factors when selecting investments, engaging with companies on sustainability issues, and voting their proxies in line with sustainable practices. They can also explore dedicated sustainable investment funds or work with asset managers specializing in sustainable investments.

What challenges does the sustainable investing industry face?

Some of the challenges in the sustainable investing industry include the lack of consensus on measuring the impact of sustainable investments, regulatory uncertainties, and the need for standardized reporting. These challenges need to be addressed to ensure transparency, comparability, and accurate assessment of sustainable investments.

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