Assets Owner Rankings

Bridging the development finance gap at the upstream end of the investment chain

UNCTAD has been monitoring and ranking the world’s top asset owners – mainly pension and sovereign wealth funds – in terms of their sustainability integration and performance. As the world’s largest asset owners with a relatively long investment horizon, public pension funds (PPFs) and sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are in a unique position to effect changes in sustainability integration along the investment chain. In 2021, 47 funds published an ESG/sustainability report or reported significantly in their annual report, accounting for 36% of global PPF AUM and 23% of global SWF AUM. More than half of these funds (53) do not report on sustainability integration, including funds from both developing and developed economies. The regional distribution may point to the regulatory impact on reporting trends as well as corporate practices.

The UN scorecard below tries to evaluate the sustainability integration performance of the world’s top 100 funds by AUM (70 PPFs, 30 SWFs), which own $22 trillion of assets under management (AUM).

The top funds in 2021, ranked by sustainability performance

The ranking covers six reporting areas (governance and resources, policies, ESG investment strategies, climate action, ESG integration along the investment chain and evaluation and reporting. The numbers on the bottom are the percentages of funds reporting on that metric: red signifies that less than half of funds report; green signifies that at least 9 out of 10 funds report.

ESG integration matrix for 47 public pension and sovereign wealth funds (ranked by sustainability performance)


The strongest and weakest areas of performance in 2021

Funds performed well in several areas of sustainability integration, including governance, policies, investment strategies and ESG integration along the investment chain. Additionally, for evaluation and reporting, it should be noted that 8 out of 10 funds use an international reporting framework on sustainability, such as TCFD. Funds performed less well in some aspects of governance, monitoring and reporting and alignment with the SDGs. In general, there is a large variance in reporting, as no widely accepted reporting framework exists for asset owners/managers.



The UNCTAD Sustainability Integration Framework for Institutional Investors

Based on the best practices and lessons learned from the efforts of the frontrunner funds on sustainability integration, UNCTAD proposed a framework for other funds.

For more detailed information about the ranking and UNCTAD’s work on sustainability integration by the world’s top asset owners, please download our latest publication.

Legend for the 25 reporting areas of the ESG integration matrix

Source: UNCTAD