Fund Solutions

New Platform Aims to Streamline Impact Management Practices 

Impact Management Platform marks ” the beginning of mainstreaming impact”, says UNEP’s Andersen.

Organisations cannot cope with “a thousand different ways of measuring impact”, said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), speaking at the launch of the Impact Management Platform.

The platform has been developed to improve interoperability between existing standards and support coordinated dialogue with policymakers, with the aim of consolidating companies’ and investors’ understanding of best practice in impact management.

According to an August report published by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the global market for impact investments has grown to US$2.3 trillion as of 2020, the equivalent of 2% of global AUM. However, just a quarter of these investments have a clear impact management system in place, the report said.

This means that, although a rising number of investors are labelling themselves as impact investors, it is becoming more challenging for asset owners to “determine which investment strategies and assets should be considered impact investments”, the IFC warned.

To address this, the new platform’s web tool links to resources that will support organisations and investors in implementing core impact management actions. These span sustainability-related disclosures to business strategies.

It is primarily aimed at individuals within public and private organisations responsible for sustainability-related decision-making, such as Chief Risk Officers, Chief Policy Officers and Chief Sustainability Officers.

With a 2030 deadline for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), clarity on effective impact management is vital for companies and investors, panellists at the launch event emphasised. Investors are increasingly using UN SDGs as a framework to assess the positive impact of their investment strategies.

Partners of the platform, which include the Global Impact Investing Network, Global Reporting Initiative, the UN-convened Principles for Responsible Investment and World Benchmarking Alliance, have made their standards and guidance will be accessible through the website. Its development was coordinated by the Impact Management Project (IMP), a five-year consensus-building forum designed to run until 2021.

“The establishment of the platform is the beginning of mainstreaming impact [and it is giving both] businesses and financial institutions the ability to more effectively review their processes in line with existing guidelines and standards,” said Andersen.

The website further includes references to initiatives such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure and the EU Taxonomy – initiatives that did not collaborate on the website, but which are frequently referred to and used alongside partners’ guidance and resources.

Through the platform, partnering organisations will be working together to identify opportunities to consolidate their resources.

“Even in cases where resources and standards cannot be consolidated, they at least need to be coherent and complementary,” said IMP CEO Clara Barby.

The platform steering committee includes multilateral bodies that are also advising the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), which was launched at COP26, thus ensuring alignment between both initiatives.

Members of the steering group include the International Finance Corporation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and several UN organisations, such as the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

The broader ‘Organisation View’ is now live, with platform partners currently developing the more specific ‘Investment View’, expected to be published in 2022. The latter will outline the fundamentals of impact management for investors directing capital into an individual company/asset or a portfolio.

“The platform will be an authority for practitioners of all kinds, whether just starting out or looking to improve their existing practices,” said Barby.

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