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Global bodies back new investment and enterprise impact management project

Initiative is coordinated by social investor Bridges Fund Management

A project looking to mainstream the concept of ‘impact management’ has launched a new network involving the Principles for Responsible Investment, the International Finance Corporation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Global Reporting Initiative and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

‘Impact management’ is described as the ‘ongoing process of trying to generate material positive effects for people and planet and trying to prevent material negative effects’.

Social investor Bridges Fund Management has been working since last year with over 600 stakeholders on framing shared dimensions of ‘impact management’ for investors to report on.

This week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Impact Management Project (IMP) launched the IMP network in an ambitious initiative to provide “coherent and end-to-end ‘rules of the road’ for impact management”.

Clara Barby, the Bridges partner who is facilitating IMP, said: “In financial management, ‘general acceptance’ of norms for how we talk about, measure and manage financial performance enables capital to flow efficiently across value chains and across borders.

“If we want impact management to become the norm for every enterprise and investor, as the UN Sustainable Development Goals demand, we need shared principles, reporting standards and benchmarking methods for impact.”

The IMP network comprises of the UNDP, IFC, OECD, Social Value International, Global Reporting Initiative, Global Impact Investing Network, PRI and World Benchmarking Alliance.This month the FT reported that the IFC was working on creating ’13 principles of impact investing’ to counter confusion about the market and prevent ‘impact washing’.

It comes as more countries join the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG). Bangladesh, New Zealand and South Africa will be the latest countries to launch national advisory boards (NABs) to promote impact investing in their respective regions. The GSG is chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen and was established under the 2015 G8 to catalyse impact investing.

The three countries join 18 existing countries and the European Union in the global network. The chairs of the new NABs, who will be formally admitted to the GSG network at the 2018 GSG Impact Summit in Delhi next month are – Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Secretary of the External Resources Division at the Bangladesh Ministry of Finance; David Woods, Chairman of the Impact Enterprise Fund representing New Zealand; and Elias Masilela, Executive Chairman of DNA Economics representing South Africa.

Meanwhile, South Africa has launched its first social impact bond. The Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation, Future Growth Asset Managers and the House of Liechtenstein’s LGT Venture Philanthropy have invested in the ‘Impact Bond Innovation Fund’ (IBIF) aimed at improving outcomes in early childhood.

This week at the United Nations General Assembly, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, said it was working on a pipeline of social impact bonds that bear for replication and can be turned into larger outcome-based facilities.