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January 29, 2013

Sustainable Investment Forums Form International Alliance
    by Robert Kropp

The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, consisting of seven major sustainable membership organizations, publishes a survey of global trends in sustainable investment. -- The world's seven largest sustainable investment forums—US SIF, the Social Investment Organization (SIO), Eurosif, UKSIF, the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO), Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), and Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA )—announced this week that they have formed the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA), a collaboration whose vision is the integration of sustainable investment into financial systems and the investment chain.

The announcement of the new alliance coincides with the publication of a report entitled Global Sustainable Investment Review 2012, for which GSIA also received input from non-members AfricaSIF and SIF-Japan. The report collates the results of market studies undertaken by the regional forums.

"Globally, at least $13.6 trillion worth of professionally managed assets incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns into their investment selection and management," the report states. "This represents 21.8% of the total assets managed professionally in the regions covered by the report, conclusively showing that the sustainable investment industry has significant scale in the global arena."

Data from Latin America, which does not yet host a regional sustainable investment forum, was not included in the report's findings.

Other significant conclusions from the report include:

• The most common strategy used globally is negative/exclusionary screening, with $8.3 trillion in assets.
• Norms‐based screening is also significant at $3.0 trillion, but this approach is currently only found on a large scale in Europe.
• Positive/best-in-class screening stands at just over $1.0 trillion, with the US market contributing most of the global assets invested in positive screening.
• Assets utilizing ESG integration are at $6.2 trillion.
• Approaches to corporate engagement/shareholder action vary greatly across regions, but this is the third most common strategy, at $4.7 trillion.
• Impact investing and sustainability themed investments are comparatively small at $89 billion and $83 billion respectively.
• All of the regions expect sustainable investment strategies to expand as increasing numbers of investors realize the value in considering ESG issues and the importance of sustainable investment to risk management and long-term performance.

"In an increasingly international investment sector, understanding the breadth of and innovations across sustainable investment markets is critical to the advancement of this field," Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF, said. "The work that is being done by the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance will allow us to bring our national and regional expertise to bear on international research, policy and other strategic efforts."

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