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UNCTAD Sustainable Fund Awards 2021

October 20, 2021 @ 11:30 am - 12:00 pm CEST

Sustainable funds, which integrate environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) considerations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their asset allocation process, have grown rapidly in number, variety and size. UNCTAD estimates that, today, there are nearly 4,000 such funds, with assets under management of over USD 1.7 trillion. These sustainability‐oriented funds have become important instruments for institutional investors to invest in sustainable development, channeling billions of dollars into key sectors that are critical for achieving the SDGs.

Despite their rapid growth, the total assets of sustainable funds account for 3.2% of the entire fund universe, and most of them are domiciled and invested in developed economies. Meanwhile, a lack of transparency and inconsistency of standards around sustainability labelling have given rise to credibility issues and “ESG washing” concerns.

To encourage the development of high‐quality, high‐impact sustainable funds, and in particular those investing in SDG‐related sectors and in developing countries, the UNCTAD sustainable fund awards recognize outstanding funds that demonstrate the highest standards of sustainability and impact, while outperforming their respective financial performance benchmarks.


The 2021 UNCTAD Sustainable Global Fund Award is dedicated to sustainable equity funds, which represent the largest share of the sustainable fund universe by both number of funds and assets under management. Four winners were awarded:

    • Aegon Global Sustainable Equity Fund
    • Baillie Gifford Positive Change Equities Fund
    • New Alternatives Fund A
    • Swisscanto (LU) Equity Fund Sustainable Global Climate

The 2021 UNCTAD Sustainable Emerging Market Fund Award recognizes the achievements and impact of sustainable equity funds that invest (solely or mainly) in emerging markets. Two winners were awarded:

    • Matthews Asia ESG Fund
    • Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Sustainability Fund


Evaluation of funds was based on five sustainability indicators of their holdings: 1. ESG rating at the portfolio level, which is provided by Conser based on its multisource ESG Consensus® rating, with its methodology and process audited by PwC; 2. SDG alignment; 3. net impact on climate; 4. relative performance; and 5. investment performance resilience. Technical support was provided by Anglo-Swiss Advisors on the analysis of the financial performance of the funds. For details, please refer to Methodology below.

Selection Committee

  • Ms. Xiaolan Fu, Director, Technology and Management Centre for Development, University of Oxford
  • Mr. Manuel Leuthold, Chairman, Compenswiss (Fonds de compensation)
  • Ms. Fiona Reynolds, CEO, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
  • Ms. Lisa Sachs, Director, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Columbia University
  • Ms. Nandini Sukumar, CEO, World Federation of Exchanges (WFE)
  • Mr. James Zhan, Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD
  • Mr. Laurent Zylberberg, Chairman, European Long-Term Investors Association


Winners Shortlist Video Methodology Press release


October 20, 2021
11:30 am - 12:00 pm CEST