Global bodies join forces to mainstream impact management via the IMP network
A group of leading global organisations has created a network called the Impact Management Project (“IMP”): an ambitious initiative to provide coherent and end-to-end ‘rules of the road’ for impact management. In an increasingly fragmented landscape of initiatives, this network offers a unique shot at agreeing on standards of practice that might ultimately become generally accepted globally.
The IMP network, which launches during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, is an unprecedented collaboration between nine global organisations with complementary areas of expertise:
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – the largest UN programme with its 170+ offices around the world – to anchor this network’s efforts in the SDGs. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed yesterday with UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, the IMP will work closely with UNDP’s new venture – SDG Impact – to provide a seal and certification for SDG-enabling investments and organise relevant impact intelligence from across the UN system.
- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group and the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets – to promote adoption of impact management principles for investors.
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – an international organisation advancing evidence-based policies – to further develop the conceptual framework for impact management practice.
- The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – the prevailing non-financial reporting standard used by over 70% of large companies – to evolve impact-based disclosure standards for businesses.
- Social Value International (SVI) – a network of local evaluators and analysts championing the voice of end-users in impact data collection and decision making– to promote a widely-agreed upon conceptual framework for impact management practice
- The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) – a global network of impact investors – to evolve impact-based reporting standards for impact investors
- The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) – with nearly 2,000 global investor signatories – to provide investors with an impact classification system for investment products
- The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) – a new initiative to provide public benchmarks that include the impact performance of the world’s 2,000 largest companies in relation to the SDGs
- The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) – a global network of country-level ecosystems – to establish a methodology for impact-weighted financial accounts based on generally accepted principles, disclosure standards and a transparent impact rating system.
The IMP network is a response to the growing demand for greater consensus on what constitutes good impact management practice. If stakeholders across the value chain can understand and report on their performance using a ‘generally accepted’ approach, it will be easier to work together to achieve common goals like the SDGs, facilitate the flow of more capital into the space, and prevent any attempts at ‘impact-washing’.
Clara Barby, who is facilitating the Impact Management Project, 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 is the first time that such a diverse group of organisations, from across the entire value chain, have chosen to work on content in a deliberately coordinated fashion. This is our best shot at creating an impact management approach that can ultimately become ‘generally accepted’ globally.”
Ben Carpenter, Acting CEO of SVI, said:
“At Social Value International we are always striving for greater consistency in the way that organisations account for and manage social value. The impact management project to date has been a great opportunity for our members to come together and contribute to a set of standards and industry norms. We look forward to this next stage, working with key global partners, to build on this existing convergence of thought and scale its application.”
About the IMP
The IMP network builds on the previous phases of the Impact Management Project, a global effort to establish impact management norms involving more than 2,000 practitioners across different disciplines and geographies. The widespread consensus achieved under the IMP is that, since all businesses and investments have effects on people and the planet, managing impact is the process of figuring out which effects matter and then trying to prevent the negative and increase the positive. Impact management norms agreed through the project include a shared definition of impact and the type of information that one would therefore expect to find in any good impact framework and impact report. The project also provides a logic for sharing information about impact across increasingly complex value chains – from people and planet experiencing impact, to enterprises, to investment intermediaries and advisors, to asset owners.
The IMP network will be coordinated by the market-building arm of Bridges Fund Management, which launched and facilitated the earlier phases of the Impact Management Project.
The work of the IMP has been supported by a diverse consortium of funders, ranging from some of the world’s largest investors and philanthropists, to government bodies, to multinational corporations. They include: Omidyar Network, Ford Foundation, DFID Impact Programme, MacArthur Foundation, Anthos, AXA, Barclays, Big Society Capital, BlackRock, the Case Foundation, Generation Foundation, Hermes, Heron Foundation, Leapfrog Investments, Mars, Inc, Neuberger Berman, PGGM, PIMCO, UBS and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
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