The Impact Economy Brief | 27 September

Welcome to the latest edition of Bates Wells’ Impact Economy Brief.

Our fortnightly ‘Brief’ is intended to be a helpful reference point and resource for our network, providing an overview of activity in the Impact Economy. You won’t be surprised to see that we’ve taken a particular interest in legal and regulatory developments.  

We hope you find the Brief to be a valuable digest of the things you need to know, and invite you to tell us what you’d like to read more about.

Talk the Talk

As the language of the Impact Economy develops, we’ll add relevant terminology to our Impact Economy Glossary, to help share a common understanding. This week’s jargon is:


Editor’s Pick

If you only have 5 minutes of quiet this week, we recommend…

Blog – Why We Invested: Zebras Unite. The Omidyar Network highlights the need for change in the culture and norms of the tech industry, and how ‘Zebra’ founders prioritise cooperation, social benefit, sustainability and share ownership over competition. For more, two co-founders of Zebras Unite comment in the Harvard Business Review on the recent Business Roundtable statement, and what can be learned from established Zebras.

Impact Business

Podcast – Money talks: Planet Inc. In this podcast Jan Piotrowski, the Economist’s Business Editor, considers the main types of climate change risks businesses face (physical, transitional and legal), and economist and educator, Kate Raworth, talks about planetary boundaries and an addiction to “unending growth”.

Two years into investing out of our first Impact Fund: here’s what we’re learning. Zoe Schlag, MD of Techstars Impact Accelerator, Austin, and Founder and Executive Director of UnLtd USA, considers the performance of Techstars’ Impact Tech companies against the general portfolio, and the trends driving Impact Tech growth.

Blog – A framework for measuring social wellbeing. Bates Wells’ Alice Hulbert, from our Advisory & Impact Team, describes a five pillars framework for the measurement of social wellbeing.

A longer read – The Circular Economy – Boundaries and Bridges is a new report from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, exploring the features of a circular economy and the challenges for organisations seeking more sustainable routes to market, and presenting a framework for systems change, including guidance on working across sectors and with competitors (press release).

Hidden power: How corporate foundations can create better capitalism. Pioneers Post reports on a session from the recent C Summit, organised by EVPA and Dafne to explore philanthropic corporate funding, looking at the possible outcomes of ‘alignment’ between corporates and their associated foundations.

A longer read – Good Tech Lab has published The Frontiers of Impact Tech, the first of two reports looking at technology and system entrepreneurship that can help reverse climate change, and how investors, incubators, corporates and development institutions partner with impact tech entrepreneurs.

Impact Investment

Podcast – Big Society Capital: Impact Investing for Social and Environmental Change. Ethical Compass Podcast interviews Evita Zanuso about the role that Big Society Capital plays in supporting solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges, the history of the organisation, and what she thinks lies ahead for investing with impact.

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust announced that it has been recognised as a global leader in responsible investment by the PRI Association, an internationally recognised proponent of responsible investment backed by the UN. The PRI lists all 47 global leaders and provides further information on its website: PRI Leaders’ Group 2019.

IPE reports that Swedish investors have forged an advisory board to foster impact investing in the country, inclusive of Sweden’s biggest financial groups.

‘Unprecedented’: Investors responsible for $2.4trn commit to net-zero alignment at the UN’s Climate Summit in New York, alongside the announcement of the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, reports Edie.

Bloomberg reports that Clean Energy Investment Is Set to Hit $2.6 Trillion This Decade.

Legal and Regulatory

The allowance under the Social Investment Tax Relief scheme for Capital Gains Tax hold-over relief, on gains re-invested into qualifying investments, has been extended so that it will continue to be available until April 2021 (for detail see the amending regulations, coming into force on 4 Nov 2019).

Sustainable finance: Council agrees position on a unified EU classification system. EU ambassadors have greenlighted the Council’s position on a proposal to create an EU-wide classification system, or “taxonomy”, which will provide businesses and investors with a common language to identify what economic activities can be considered environmentally sustainable (press release).

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) have released the TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) Good Practice Handbook, designed to complement the TCFD Implementation Guide and help companies more effectively communicate with investors about their financially material climate-related risks and opportunities (press release).

The International Corporate Governance Network has published a short paper asking What is the role of the creditor in corporate governance and investor stewardship? The paper considers how, in the absence of formal ownership rights, creditors can engage with different types of issuers on key governance themes, including ESG and long-term sustainability.

A longer read – Equity for all is a new report from think-tank Ownership at Work, which considers the current strengths of Employee Ownership Trusts, the number of which is increasing at 30% per annum in the UK, and recommends developments that could, learning from the US model, help broaden ownership and boost pension provisions (press release from the Employee Ownership Association).


If you’d like to speak to us about our work in the Impact Economy, please get in touch.

If you’d like to speak to us about the Brief, please contact our editor, Phillippa Holland.

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Disclaimer – The information contained in this briefing is not intended to be a comprehensive update – it is our selection of third party reports, news, podcasts and other materials, as well as some content produced by Bates Wells where indicated as such, which we think will be of interest to those working in the Impact Economy. This content is necessarily of a general nature; it does not constitute advice, and specific advice should always be sought for specific situations.

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of September 27, 2019.