Socially responsible investment (SRI) is likely to become more popular, a report from the market research firm Datamonitor says.
Ethical protesters help to draw attention to investment issues
Its report calculates that as much as £727bn across Europe is invested in funds which claim to be responsible.
They are most popular in the UK, which in 2005 accounted for 71% of European savings in this type of fund.
Datamonitor says the market is growing partly because these investments have produced good returns in recent years.
"Managing wealth in an ethical way has always been popular with certain niche client groups," said the report's author, Katie Langridge.
"But general public awareness of global environmental and social problems has increased, thanks to high profile charity campaigns and increasing activism."
As a result of socially responsible investing becoming more popular, the report says, more investment firms are promoting funds that have an ethical or socially responsible focus to them.
Traditionally, ethical investing has been associated with funds that might exclude a large number of potential investments.
Often they would avoid shares in companies involved in industries such as armaments, tobacco, alcohol or gambling, or investments in certain countries.
At the end of 2005 private investors in the UK had just £6bn invested in these funds, according to Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS), a long standing organisation devoted to promoting ethical investment,
There were about half a million accounts distributed among 75 funds.
But in recent years professional investors have been adapting some of these ideas and styling a diluted version as "socially responsible" investment.
Increasingly pension funds, which invest money on behalf of millions of people, have been investing this way.
Banks such as the Co-op have adopted an explicitly ethical stance to doing business - a stance widely promoted by organisations such as the UN and the International Labour Organisation.