Global impact standards on the agenda for new taskforce
20 July 2021 at 4:20 pm
Impact investing advocates say Australia needs to keep pace with fast moving global developments or risks being left behind
The UK government is setting up an independent Impact Taskforce (ITF) to help drive impact investment’s role in the COVID recovery and develop globally accepted impact standards.
This taskforce will be led by Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) and the UK-based Impact Investing Institute, with a focus on cultivating discussions and recommendations around impact transparency, integrity, and trust.
The ITF – which will be funded by the UK government as part of its 2021 G7 presidency – will have two working groups to lead its core work.
The GSG will focus on the need for simpler and more harmonised impact reporting methodologies and accounting, as well as transparency and industry integrity.
The Impact Investing Institute meanwhile will concentrate on designing principles and recommendations for financing vehicles able to mobilise private capital at scale.
This capital will be focused on impact areas including the creation of quality jobs, education and health amid the global transition to net-zero economies.
GSG CEO Cliff Prior said the group was delighted to lead the taskforce with the support of the UK government.
“Robust reporting standards and innovative investment structures are absolutely central to the development of an impact ecosystem that benefits people and the planet,” Prior said.
“The creation of the taskforce will highlight the power of impact investing during the UK’s G7 presidency, as countries around the world seek solutions for fair and just recoveries from the COVID-19 crisis.”
Douglas L. Peterson, the president and CEO of S&P Global, will be leading the harmonised impact reporting working group.
He said transparency and a common language for accounting and reporting was essential for every investment approach, and impact investing was no exception.
“The development of globally accepted impact standards will allow investors to see clearly how companies are performing both financially and on their returns to society, enabling them to better allocate their money to investments with positive impact,” Peterson said.
Taskforce offers lessons for Australia
Australian impact investing leader Rosemary Addis AM, the executive director of Impact Strategist, told Pro Bono News she welcomed the formation of the taskforce.
She said she was delighted that the GSG and the Impact Investing Institute were playing a leading role in shaping the work program and that Australia was participating.
But she noted Australia needed to do more to ensure it kept pace with these fast moving global developments.
“The work on reporting standards I think is important because it’s a really fast moving area. And Australia is in my view not sufficiently in the conversation,” Addis said.
“The landscape of standards is moving quickly and Australian companies, investors and governments need to understand these developments – they are shaping markets and setting new expectations.”
She added that all entities were going to need to disclose more about their effects on people and the planet.
“[Entities need to] build their impact muscle to understand how social and environmental risks and opportunities affect performance,” she said.
“Australia risks being behind the 8 ball. This is part of the context of global markets now.
“Disclosure is one part of the picture; once there is more transparency about what’s creating harm, we expect more pressure for companies and investors to act to avoid harm, create more benefit and contribute solutions.”