A new global standard for impact management

The next phase of the Impact Management Project (IMP), was launched today at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The IMP was conceived to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing investors and businesses: how do we find a commonly-accepted way of defining, measuring and reporting on the impact that every investment has on people and/or the planet?

Growing out of a client project carried out by Bridges partner Clara Barby and her team at Bridges Impact+ (our field-building and advisory arm), the IMP has since developed into a global, sector-wide initiative, supported by a diverse group of funders and shaped by the input of over 2,000 organisations and practitioners from across the global investment value chain.

To date, the IMP’s work has focused on agreeing some standard definitions of impact. It is now moving into an even more ambitious phase: developing a set of shared principles, reporting standards and benchmarks for impact. To achieve this, it has managed to bring together nine of the world’s leading standard-setters: the United Nations Development Programme, the International Finance Corporation, the OECD, Social Value International, the Global Reporting Initiative, the Global Impact Investing Network, the Principles for Responsible Investment, the World Benchmarking Alliance and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment.

Clara and the Bridges Impact+ team have facilitated IMP’s work since inception, and will continue to do so during the next phase of the project.

Clara Barby, chief executive of the Impact Management Project (and a partner at Bridges), 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.”

Philip Newborough, chief executive of Bridges Fund Management, said: “We spent many years developing our own tools and methodologies to help us invest for impact. But what we came to realise was that it doesn’t make sense for all the different players in this market to devise their own competing methodologies; it just confuses the market. Far better to come together and agree some very clear standards and definitions that are accepted across the market – then everyone can compete on maximising impact and delivering the best possible results within that framework. We firmly believe that doing this will facilitate much greater flows of capital to the most impactful investment opportunities. That’s why we’ve supported the Impact Management Project since inception and will continue to do so – via Clara and her team – in this next phase. The remarkable network of partners that IMP has been able to put together is testament to the global appetite for this kind of consensus, and we’re very excited by what it can achieve.”

Visit the Impact Management Project website for more info.

ImpactAlpha discusses the new emerging impact measurement architecture.