Terminology in this area causes a lot of confusion. While they certainly overlap, ‘ESG’ refers mostly to types of ‘non-financial’ data that is often used to score companies. This is ‘Environmental’ (e.g., carbon emissions), ‘Social’ (e.g., % women managers) and Governance (e.g. % of independent board members). Investing in the ‘ESG’ lens involves screening for companies that do better on these different metrics. ‘SRI’ or ‘socially responsible investing’ typically connotes using negative screens (e.g., for tobacco, alcohol, firearms, etc.) to avoid areas seen as more societally harmful.
‘Impact Investing’ is often associated with private market investments but can apply to public markets as well, with a focus on looking to generate, and typically track, the change in outcomes generated from a particular investment. ‘Sustainable investing’ is a general term and could encompass any of these different terms or just refer to investing that is either in line with, or promotes, a more sustainable world.