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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Introduction to ESG and Government Ethics

White house

White house

The impact of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors is growing in governments at all levels of the federal system. As ESG considerations become more widespread, ethical awareness of the importance of these factors to promote the common good for society also grows among governments, their agencies and public officials.  Governments are increasingly using ESG factors in investment decisions on government fund management and pension fund investments, contracting or privatizing services, and planning and policy decisions. This may be evident in regulations, grant applications, disclosure requirements, environmental impact statements, diversity goals, and budget and financial policy actions of government agencies. In effect, governments—especially at the state and local level—are making decisions with an ethical awareness of how the public interest can best be served by applying ESG to the business of government. ESG may enhance the ethical culture in governments and, in turn, the common good.


Jan 17, 2022
ESG Resources for Government Ethics
City Hall Building

State and local governments’ adoption and implementation of ESG is becoming an important ethical value in jurisdictions across the country.

Often thought of as concept more closely tied to the private sector, the public sector has both an historical and expanding role in promoting the value of ESG in its policies and decisions.

Adam Silver

Ethical leadership is required from all of us during times of crisis.