Policy: Access to Sustainable Investing


Sustainable investing continues to expand—now accounting for one out of every three dollars under professional management in the United States. The total US-domiciled assets under management using sustainable investing strategies grew to $17.1 trillion at the start of 2020, an increase of 42 percent since 2018.

US SIF advocates for public policy that does not restrict investors’ and investment professionals’ ability to incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related tools, metrics and analyses to evaluate an investment’s risk or return or choose among otherwise equivalent investments.

Priority Areas of Action

ERISA & Fiduciary Duty:  US SIF supports the 2015 Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) guidance that clarifies that fiduciaries of ERISA-governed pension plans need not treat commercially reasonable investments as inherently suspect or in need of special scrutiny merely because they take into consideration environmental, social or other such factors. The guidance assures fiduciaries that they may incorporate ESG-related tools, metrics and analyses to evaluate an investment’s risk or return or choose among otherwise equivalent investments.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): Providing a sustainable investment option for federal employees allows them to have access to the same kind of investment options offered to millions of other public sector and private sector employees. The Thrift Savings Plan Investment Board made a unanimous decision in July 2015 to move forward with developing a mutual fund window option, which would include sustainable investment options, for the 4.7 million federal employees and military personnel served by the TSP. However, there remains little indication that a window option for federal employees will be launched in the near future.
Letters and Statements

Joint Report on DOL ESG Rule Comments (8/2020)
US SIF comment letter to DOL on ERISA and ESG (7/2020) ‚Äč
US SIF letter requesting comment period extension for ERISA – ESG rulemaking (6/2020)
US SIF Summary of GAO Report on ESG and Retirement Plans 08/2018 and GAO Report
US SIF Comment Letter on Annual Reporting for Employee Benefit Plans (Form 5500) 12/2016
US SIF Commends Department Of Labor Repeal Of 2008 Bulletin Discouraging Fiduciaries From Incorporating Social And Environmental Investment Factors 10/2015
US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment Praises Decision To Provide Greater Investment Choice To Federal Employees 07/2015