What we do

Reducing and absorbing carbon emissions at the speed and scale needed to safeguard our planet requires vast amounts of capital. At the same time a global consensus is emerging that to be sustained and successful, this transition needs to be socially inclusive. Capital will need to be invested in ways that support a Just Transition towards a Net Zero world that is fair and beneficial for all – including the delivery of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the Impact Investing Institute, we aim to transform capital markets to make them fairer and work better for people and the planet. In this, our second impact report, we reflect on the achievements we have made so far and look ahead, outlining our priorities for the future.

In May 2022, BEIS, DEFRA and HMT published a call for evidence ahead of the UK government’s update to its Green Finance Strategy, expected later…

In 2017, Dame Elizabeth Corley, Chair of the Impact Investing Institute, convened the first meeting of the Taskforce for Growing a Culture of Social Impact Investing in the UK. Since then, the impact investing market has developed significantly – but until now there has not been an estimate of the size of the UK market in its totality. Our report, “Estimating and describing the UK impact investing market”, published in partnership with EY and supported by the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and Big Society Capital, sets out to change this.

In May 2021, our white paper “Scaling up institutional investment for place-based impact” identified a barrier which could prevent institutional investors from adopting a place-based approach: the lack of appropriate financing vehicles through which to invest. Our new report tackles this barrier head on, setting out the key characteristics viable vehicles must possess, a variety of structures they can adopt and a set of case studies which demonstrate these principles in practice.

The origination of place-based impact investment opportunities is highly complex, making it difficult to connect institutional investors seeking to adopt place-based strategies with the fund managers and enterprises who meet their needs. This report tests the hypothesis that this issue can be addressed through a ‘platform’ solution. It explores existing kinds of origination platforms and considers how information intermediation – including but not limited to such web-based platforms – can help facilitate increased PBII. 

Our paper, “Investing for impact in the endowment: Why do it and how to get started”, is a practical guide designed to help foundation leaders and the constellation of professionals that surround them to make their first moves into impact investing. With support from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and working in partnership with other key players in the sector, we aim to increase the volume of charitable endowment assets invested for positive social and environmental impact as well as financial return.

In November 2021, the FCA launched a discussion paper “DP21/4: Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) and investment labels” and sought responses both to the paper itself and the questions laid out in its annex. In January 2022, the Impact Investing Institute hosted a roundtable with the FCA to explore the proposals laid out by the discussion paper. The roundtable focused on impact labelling, the tiered structure approach, and the transition category.

In this paper, we explain why we think charity trustees should feel confident in concluding that, in the round, both from a “mission lens” and a “financial lens”, impact investing is an approach which can most effectively advance the objects, mission, and work of the charity as a whole.

In October 2021, the Department for Work and Pensions launched their consultation “Climate and investment reporting: setting expectations and empowering savers.” We welcome this timely consultation which introduces important and valuable new ways for pension schemes to invest lawfully, responsibly and with impact. We believe, however, that further steps can be taken by the Department to remove existing barriers to impact investing and ensure that the transition to Net Zero benefits the communities most affected by it.

In partnership with the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), we co-led the G7 Impact Taskforce, an independent, industry-led effort backed by the UK Government as part of the UK presidency of the G7 in 2021. Workstream B, the Workstream led by the Impact Investing Institute, had a particular focus on identifying concrete instruments and policies for financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a transition to a Net Zero world in which no one is left behind.

Our report, “Building Strong Places: a new, impactful role for financial institutions” was written with Metro Dynamics for Lloyds Banking Group, and explores how mainstream financial institutions can engage in place-based impact investing. The report recognises the urgent need for transformational investment that improves people’s lives while futureproofing the UK economy, particularly given the importance of a socially-just climate transition and the economic crisis caused by Covid-19.  

This document presents a summary of the key insights gathered in each session of our Knowledge Exchange Series from market-builders operating in a variety of national contexts, as well as leading practitioners and thought leaders who were invited as guest speakers in different sessions. These insights provide an accurate reflection of the challenges, opportunities, solutions and lessons learnt from impact investing champions across the globe.

The seventh session of the Knowledge Exchange Series explored how impact investing National Advisory Boards (NABs) and other market-building organisations can effectively partner with development finance institutions (DFIs) to leverage sources of finance, expertise and solutions to support economic development and quality of life in their respective markets.

The sixth session of the Knowledge Exchange Series explored how impact investing National Advisory Boards (NABs) and other market-builders can use their platforms to work with governments and create an enabling environment for impact investing, to help unleash finance, innovation, and entrepreneurship to solve pressing issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency.

Our paper, “The Green+ Bond: How EU Sovereign and Corporate Issuers could deliver Green Sovereign Bonds with Social Co-Benefits”, co-authored with the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute, emphasises the strategic potential for a green sovereign bond with well-defined social and economic benefits to support the European Commission’s new Strategy for “financing the transition to a sustainable economy.”

In partnership with Property Funds Research and supported by Homes England and Investment Property Forum, we have published a ground-breaking and comprehensive report detailing the investment case for UK social housing.

In September 2021, the Institute submitted its response to the Financial Conduct Authority’s consultation papers CP21/17 and CP21/18 on enhancing climate-related disclosures. The Institute strongly welcomes these timely consultations and the FCA’s commitment to widening the applicability of its requirement to make climate-related disclosures.

In July 2021, the Platform on Sustainable Finance published its first draft report on a proposal for a social taxonomy, which assesses the merits of a social taxonomy in addition to the green taxonomy, and explores possible avenues to complement the existing taxonomy. The Institute strongly welcomes the EU’s foresight in developing a social taxonomy in addition to the green taxonomy and, in August 2021, the Institute submitted its response to the Platform’s consultation on the draft report. The document in this post outlines the key excerpts from our response.

A working paper on the UK’s Green Gilt: Demonstrating the Contribution to Jobs and Levelling Up, co-authored with the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute.

Our joint white paper “Scaling up institutional investment for place-based impact” sets out the case for institutional investors to adopt a “place-based lens.” The report shows that there are real opportunities for investors to secure financial returns while addressing place-based inequalities and support more inclusive and sustainable development across the UK.

In June 2021, the Institute submitted its response to the Department for Work and Pensions’ consultation on the consideration of social risks and opportunities by occupational pension schemes. The Institute strongly welcomes the consultation’s foresight in recognising the increasing importance of social factors for investing.

In May 2021, the Institute responded to HM Revenue and Customs and HM Treasury’s consultation into reform of taxation of securitisation companies.

In November 2021, HMRC announced the minimum threshold had been lowered to £5 million.

In our first impact report for 2019-20, we are reflecting on our achievements of our first year and are looking ahead to how we can work towards our goal of improving people’s lives, as more capital contributes to addressing social and environmental challenges.

In April 2021, the Institute submitted its response to the Local Authority Pension Funds All-Party Parliamentary Group’s (APPG’s) inquiry into Responsible Investment for a Just Transition. The Institute believes that it is important to address both the consequences of climate change and the social impact of a transition to a net-zero carbon economy.

The fifth session of the Institute’s Knowledge Exchange Series explored how National Advisory Boards (NABs) on impact investing and other market-building organisations can build up the skills, knowledge and capacities on impact investing of key local stakeholders, including investors and policy-makers.

The fourth session of the Knowledge Exchange Series continued to explore the role of impact investing National Advisory Boards (NABs) as market navigators. This session focussed on how NABs can effectively engage with and support demand-side impact actors including enterprises.

The third session of the Knowledge Exchange Series explored the role of National Advisory Boards (NABs) on impact investing as market navigators. The discussion focused on how NABs can engage with and strengthen their value proposition for the supply-side of capital (including investors, asset managers and asset owners) – and featured an intervention from BlueOrchard Finance, a leading impact investor.

In February 2021, the Institute submitted its response to the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) Discussion Paper, ‘A Matter of Principles: The Future of Corporate Reporting.’

We have created an Impact Investing Learning Framework for providers of investment qualifications and trainings, such as professional bodies and trade associations. The framework was developed by a Learning Panel made up of representatives from across the impact investing sector, including Barclays, Aberdeen Standard Investments and Bridges Fund Management.

In December 2020, the Institute submitted its response to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s Consultation Paper on Sustainability Reporting. The Institute warmly welcomes the proposal of the IFRS Foundation and commends the Foundation for taking this significant first step. We believe the Foundation is well-placed to set sustainability reporting standards which are relevant to enterprise value because of its strong experience in setting international accounting standards.

We developed four guiding principles for pension schemes that give an accessible, practical insight into the opportunity presented by impact investing and the concrete steps trustees can take to pursue an impact investing strategy.

We produced a paper that explains how fiduciary duty and impact investing are compatible, written and attested by five leading law firms and reviewed by a number of other lawyers and experts.

Many pensions are already investing with impact and provide useful examples for others to learn from. Pensioenfonds voor het Slagersbedrijf, the pension fund for the Dutch butchers’ industry with AUM of c. €2.5 billion is one of them.

Together with the Green Finance Institute and the LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, we published a proposal for a Green+ Gilt that emphasises the strategic potential for a green sovereign bond to scale up the UK’s drive to a net-zero carbon economy with well-defined social and economic benefits.

This briefing paper makes the case for mandatory public interest reporting and the integration of environmental, social and economic outcome themes and metrics in annual reports published by organisations.

As part of the Institute’s Knowledge Exchange Series we run a series of roundtables with National Advisory Boards (NABs) on impact investing in other countries, which provide a platform for mutual learning and practical knowledge sharing between NABSs to help strengthen impact investing markets globally. The second session covered governance and sustainability.

The Impact Investing Institute, together with the Good Economy and Pensions for Purpose, is working on a collaborative project aimed at mobilising more flows of institutional investment to address place-based inequalities and support more inclusive and sustainable development across the UK.

In June 2020, the Impact Investing Institute responded to the European Commission’s consultation on the review of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive making a case for the global convergence and increased adoption of high-quality standards for measurement, management and reporting of environmental and social outcomes.

This report, by the Impact Investing Institute in partnership with Deloitte, highlights that while progress in impact reporting practice is being made, the challenges to effective impact reporting practice are great.

The final report by the Implementation Taskforce looks at how to grow a culture of social impact investment and savings in the UK and highlights the progress made in the first year of the Taskforce.

This paper provides an introduction to the broader context of impact reporting, which illustrates the link between social and environmental impact reporting and investment decisions.

This report offers a five-point strategy to harness impact investing and purposeful business to help tackle some of the UK’s most pressing societal challenges at scale.

Other resources

The report features insight from the Institute, referencing our written evidence, submitted in partnership with the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute and the Green Finance Institute.

As part of the ESG Social Housing Working Group, a unique collaboration of 18 banks and investors, housing associations, service providers and impact investing organisations, the Institute helped develop the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing.

The Institute collaborated with market participants to help develop a White Paper proposing sector-standard ESG criteria to unlock public and private investment in social and affordable housing.

This report by the UK Department for International Development (now Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) is the largest and most comprehensive study of the UK public’s demand for sustainable investment opportunities. It looks at investor demand and how people can use their money to help drive positive change in the world.

The Impact Investing Institute was established in 2019 with support, including financial support, from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Two and a half years later, DCMS commissioned the below review to evaluate how this partnership has contributed to the development of the impact investing market in the UK.

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