ESG thematic investing predicted to grow over next three years 

As more investors are looking for impact and alpha-driven investment strategies, net-zero and climate change thematics lead the way forward.


A recent global survey of institutional investors and intermediary distributors conducted by BNP Paribas Asset Management and BNP Paribas Corporate & Institutional Banking, the ‘2023 BNP Paribas Thematics Barometer’, has found that thematic investing, fuelled by investors’ desire to achieve a positive impact, is expected to grow dramatically over the next three years.  

The survey, which was conducted in partnership with Coalition Greenwich, interviewed 188 investors and distributors across Europe, Asia and North America. The research identified a number of trends across the investment space, with some interesting divergence across geographies.  

Key highlights include: 

  1. Thematic investing has become mainstream and has further room to grow: 70% of thematic investors plan to increase thematic investing over the next three years. 
  1. Sustainability and returns are driving growth: Through thematic investment, investors aim for positive sustainability impact (70%) and the opportunity to enhance investment returns (63%), with 84% expecting a positive impact on long-term performance of thematic investing.   
  1. Energy transition and climate solutions are top priorities: The most appealing energy transition thematics are renewable energy, climate change solutions and net zero. From a broader environmental sustainability perspective, investors are also engaging on water-related themes.    
  1. Regional differences exist as the thematics market matures: European investors are the most engaged in comparison to Asia and the US, with evolving regulation playing an increasingly important role in investment decisions.
Constance Chalchat

Although there are divergences in the pace and current composition of ESG thematic investing across regions, the significant momentum we are seeing in Europe is here to stay, as the research highlights that investors are targeting both alpha generation and impact. The most appealing current ESG themes focus on investing in the energy transition, including pursuing targeted investment strategies across renewables, climate change solutions, and also emerging areas such as water.

Constance Chalchat
Head of CIB Company Engagement and Global Markets Chief Sustainability Officer, BNP Paribas

Thematic ESG investing is fast becoming mainstream to help investors tackle long-term sustainability issues that have the potential to transform markets and create value across portfolios. Investors are aligning across multiple objectives relating to performance and fiduciary duty, whilst navigating the ever-evolving regulatory landscape.

Pieter Oyens
Head of Global Product Strategy at BNP Paribas Asset Management

Investors are developing their ESG thematic approaches beyond equities into fixed income, and this will continue to advance further as sustainable capital markets expand in the future.

Delphine Queniart
Head of Sustainable Finance Client Engagement, BNP Paribas Global Markets

Developing robust thematic investing requires a deep sector knowledge and an understanding of industries and technologies to capture the theme potential across the whole value chain to broaden the investment.

Youri Siegel
Head of BNP Paribas Global Markets Sustainable Structuring

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