2020 was a very demanding and often tragic year for everyone. The pandemic has had a terrible effect on individuals, communities and economies across the globe. But 2020 has also brought positive developments on which we can build, and which show us how important it is to continue working towards our goal: mobilising private sector capital at scale for public good. 

We have set out some goals for 2021 to help us make further progress towards our vision of accelerating the growth and improving the effectiveness of the impact investing market in the UK and internationally. We will continue to focus on the five key areas of our work: awareness raising, education, research, measurement, management and reporting as well as policy and advocacy.  

Awareness raising and understanding of impact investing through events and targeted engagement  

We will continue our highly successful events programme, delivering webinars throughout the year on key topics around impact investing as well as the Institute’s work programme and research.  

Our engagement programme with pension schemes is gaining momentum through the recent launch of our Adopters Forum, a member forum of pension funds, investment consultants and fiduciary managers who have committed to our four practical Impact Investing Principles for Pensions. The Forum run by Pensions for Purpose will advance the Principles, share best practice and encourage more pension funds to invest with a positive social and environmental impact. The first UK pension scheme to adopt our Principles was Clwyd Pension Fund, with Kempen Capital Management being the first fiduciary duty manager to come on board.  

As part of our work with partners in the emerging markets, we will host five Knowledge Exchange Series roundtables where we bring together National Advisory Boards on impact investment from around the world to share experiences on topics ranging from supporting local investors and investees, to working with professional associations and engaging policymakers. 

Increasing competency in impact investing through our Learning Hub  

We will add four more modules to our open-source Learning Hub, plus content dedicated to the skills and knowledge investors need for impact investing in emerging markets. We will also add more interactive elements such as explainer videos.  

We are kicking off partnerships with key industry associations and professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and CFA UK, a professional membership body representing 11,000 investment professionals in the UK, as they use our Learning Framework and Hub to deliver educational events and develop educational materials on impact investing for their members. 

Making more evidence and data on impact investing available 

In March, we will share some breakthrough research on the risk/return characteristics of investments into UK social and affordable housing, demonstrating that impact investing does not require sacrificing financial return.  

As part of our work aimed at mobilising more flows of institutional investment to address place-based inequalities and support more inclusive and sustainable development across the UK, we will publish a White Paper in partnership with the Good Economy and Pensions for Purpose, which will include evidence on the current level of place-based impact investment by local government pensions schemes as well as research on the financial performance of key place-based impact investment asset classes. 

We will also publish case studies on investment opportunities across geographies and asset classes in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia that are suitable for UK pension schemes. We are looking forward to kicking off our collaboration with CDC, the UK’s development finance institution, on a series of events and publications bringing key lessons and evidence from CDC’s investments in Africa to a mainstream investment audience. 

Driving the development and adoption of high-quality reporting standards 

Building on the success of our joint Green+ Gilt proposal combining environmental and social benefits, we have established a working group to develop robust and measurable social metrics that could be used  in the design process for the UK government’s new sovereign green bond – and that could pave the way for a UK ‘Just Transition taxonomy’.  

We will also continue to engage closely with key market developments, fostering our relationships with regulators, other policymakers and industry actors and responding to consultations to encourage harmonisation of global impact measurement and reporting standards and their adoption in the UK. 

Following our work as interim secretariat, we will support the Social and Affordable Housing Sustainability Reporting Standards Board which will launch this year.  

Looking ahead to the G7 summit and COP26

In our efforts to enable policies and regulations that support impact investing, we will support the G7 summit and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) agenda by continuing to provide advice to the UK government as it develops its sovereign green bond for launch later this year, and by engaging with the EU and international partners on the scope for the development and launch of Green+ Gilts around the world, including in emerging markets. 

We also seek to catalyse significant public and private investment into a just and green recovery in the UK and in emerging markets by convening a coalition to explore the design of a Just Transition financing vehicle.  

We are committed to amplifying the case for the vital contribution of social investors and other social sector organisations to the post-pandemic recovery of the UK, in partnership with the Social Investment Forum, Big Society Capital, Social Enterprise UK and other key actors. 

Building on what we have achieved to date 

Our goal for 2021 remains for more capital to contribute to the well-being of people and the planet – as set out in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  

As we launch into year two and start to build on what we have achieved to date, we are grateful for the continued support of our current funders and partners and continue to seek additional partners for our work.