BNP Paribas survey shows ESG integration is maturing and institutional investors are at different stages of readiness for net zero

Press Release

A BNP Paribas survey of 356 asset owners, official institutions, and asset managers, shows that ESG integration is maturing, with a growing number of investors allocating more than 75% of their portfolio to ESG and know-how increasingly embedded throughout organisations. However, institutional investors are at different stages of readiness for net zero.

Key findings of the ESG Global Survey 2021 include:

  • More investors integrating ESG in at least 75% of their portfolio: 22% of respondents integrate ESG into at least 75% of their portfolios. In BNP Paribas’s 2019 survey, not one respondent envisaged this would be the case by 2021. Despite this, 66% of investors currently incorporate ESG into less than half of their portfolio.
  • Differing stages of commitment to net zero: 37% of respondents have made a public commitment to align all or part of their portfolio with a 2050 net zero target, 36% have taken initial public steps but have not started reallocating capital, and 27% have made no such commitment.
  • ESG know-how is spreading: Almost half of institutional investors (45% vs 23% in 2019) say their ESG capabilities are embedded throughout the organisation and no longer the preserve of specialist teams.
  • Rise of thematic investing: 56% of institutional investors use negative screening and more than a third (38%) now use thematic investing[1].
  • Growing application of ESG among alternative asset classes, including infrastructure (41% of investors),private equity/debt (38%) and real estate (37%).
  • Brand and reputation (59%) has overtaken returns (45%) as the main ESG driver, signalling the growing importance of ESG as a societal issue.
  • Shared values are key to asset owners: 47% (vs 27% in 2019) believe shared values are key when selecting an asset manager for an ESG mandate.
  • Growing role of company engagement: 61% of investors engage with companies (beyond proxy voting) as part of their ESG strategy.
  • Data remains the primary barrier to integration: 59% of respondents cite issues related to data as a top two impediment to integration. This compares to 66% in 2019.
  • The social pillar of ESG remains the most difficult to integrate: 51% of respondents still rate social factors as the most challenging partly due to a lack of the right data.

Florence Fontan, Head of company engagement, at BNP Paribas Securities Services, said: “The industry has come some way since our first ESG survey in 2017. Asset owners and managers are now more likely to embed ESG within their organisation and strategic decision-making. They’re also increasingly embracing thematic investing. This should stand the industry in good stead to accelerate asset allocation to ESG strategies, an urgent necessity as warnings on climate change grow starker.”


Delphine Queniart, Global head of sustainable finance and solutions, Global Markets, at BNP Paribas, said: “Growing ESG integration across asset classes, not least alternatives (infrastructure, private equity, real estate) is very much encouraging. Asset owners in particular are increasingly integrating ESG factors and looking into impact. This could trigger positive changes from a sustainable perspective, including increasing ESG disclosures and influencing changes from companies.”

Notes to editors: Survey based on data collected between April and May 2021 from 356 institutional investors with an estimated USD 11.3 trillion in assets under management. 77% of respondents had AUM under USD 100 billion.


[1] The identification and allocation of capital to themes or assets related to certain environmental or social outcomes, such as clean energy, energy efficiency, or sustainable agriculture.

Download the press release

Press Contacts

Caroline Lumley          caroline.lumley@uk.bnpparibas.com         +44 (0)20 7410 4650

BNP Paribas Securities Services on Twitter – @BNPP2S

About BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas is the European Union’s leading bank and key player in international banking. It operates in 68 countries and has more than 193,000 employees, including nearly 148,000 in Europe. The Group has key positions in its three main fields of activity: Retail Banking for the Group’s retail-banking networks and several specialised businesses; Investment & Protection Services for savings, investment and protection solutions ; and Corporate & Institutional Banking, focused on corporate and institutional clients. The Group helps all its clients (individuals, community associations, entrepreneurs, SMEs, corporates and institutional clients) to realise their projects through solutions spanning financing, investment, savings and protection insurance. In Europe, BNP Paribas has four domestic markets: Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg. The Group is rolling out its integrated retail-banking model across several Mediterranean countries, Turkey, Eastern Europe as well as via a large network in the western part of the United States. As a key player in international banking, the Group has leading platforms and business lines in Europe, a strong presence in the Americas as well as a solid and fast-growing business in Asia-Pacific.

BNP Paribas has implemented a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approach in all its activities, enabling it to contribute to the construction of a sustainable future, while ensuring the Group’s performance and stability.

The information contained within this document (‘information’) is believed to be reliable but BNP Paribas Securities Services does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Opinions and estimates contained herein constitute BNP Paribas Securities Services’ judgment and are subject to change without notice. BNP Paribas Securities Services and its subsidiaries shall not be liable for any errors, omissions or opinions contained within this document. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. For the avoidance of doubt, any information contained within this document will not form an agreement between parties. Additional information is available on request.

BNP Paribas Securities Services is incorporated in France as a Partnership Limited by Shares and is authorised and supervised by the European Central Bank (ECB), the ACPR (Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution) and the AMF (Autorité des Marchés Financiers).

In the UK, BNP Paribas Securities Services is authorised and regulated by the European Central Bank and the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution. Deemed authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and with deemed variation of permission. Subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details of the Temporary Permissions Regime, which allows EEA-based firms to operate in the UK for a limited period while seeking full authorisation, are available on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website. BNP Paribas Securities Services London Branch is registered in the UK under number FC023666. UK establishment number: BR006393. UK establishment office address: 10 Harewood Avenue, London NW1 6AA.

In the U.S., BNP Paribas Securities Services is a business line of BNP Paribas which is incorporated in France with limited liability. Services provided under this business line, including the services described in this document, if offered in the U.S., are offered through BNP Paribas acting through its New York Branch (which is duly authorised and licensed by the State of New York Department of Financial Services) or BNP Paribas Financial Services LLC, a limited liability company organised under the laws of the State of Delaware; if a securities product, through BNP Paribas Securities Corp. which is a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a member of SIPC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority; or if a futures product through BNP Paribas Securities Corp., a Futures Commission Merchant registered with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and a member of the National Futures Association.