The Impact Economy Brief | 15 November

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:

“Employee Ownership”

Editor’s Pick

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

Greenhouse interviews Paul Miller, CEO of Bethnal Green Ventures, about how the early-stage venture capital investor is taking action on climate change. This interview is part of a series published in the new report, New Green Radicals: The business leaders responding to the climate emergency, featuring entrepreneurs, leaders and creators who are providing radical solutions to the climate crisis.

Impact Business

Why Walmart and Other Companies Are Sticking With the Paris Climate Deal. Representatives of the We Are Still In coalition, of over 3,800 American businesses, states, cities and other entities representing a value of $6.2 trillion, write in The New York Times about how President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement will hurt the economy and the planet.

A longer read – The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has published the CEO Guide to the Circular Bioeconomy, signed by 16 CEOs from leading companies, calling for a shift towards a sustainable, low-carbon, circular bioeconomy and presenting a USD $7.7 trillion opportunity for business by 2030 (press release).

Supporting European sustainable businesses. Bates Wells has partnered with the Department for International Trade’s Sustainable Fast Track UK initiative, to help sustainable European businesses set up in the UK. You can read more about the Sustainable Fast Track programme.

Blog – What is your company’s digital ethics score? Sarah Burnett, Everest Group, blogs following Digital Agenda’s Power & Responsibility Summit, stating a need for every company to have an evolving digital strategy and offering a starting point for assessing its efficacy, if corporates are to help restore public trust. 

Making the circular economy business case to your CFO. The WBCSD breaks down how to quantify the opportunities of a circular economy by reference to specific cash flow elements, to help build a business case.

Impact Investment

A longer read – Systems Change: An emerging practice in impact investing is a new report from Enclude looking at how investors are increasingly engaging in ‘systems practice’, to understand underlying causes of social and environmental problems and how to avoid unintended negative consequences elsewhere in the system (press release).

Why capital can’t be a coward: a disruptive take on impact. This open letter to the participants of the GSG Impact Summit in November 2019 argues that the Impact Revolution requires a fundamental shift in beliefs, principles and values.

Podcasts – Good Future interviewed participants at this year’s SOCAP conference, in San Francisco, including: Cathy Clark, Director at Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, about the growth of impact investing and early days of SOCAP; and Sasha Dichter, co-founder of 60 Decibels, which spun-out of Acumen and focuses on better data to inform impact outcomes.

In partnership with Citi, Big Society Capital convened the Community Investment Steering Group, which has published a new report, Scaling up Community Investment in the UK: The case for investing, outlining how Community Development Finance Institutions could scale their impact by supporting sustainable small businesses.

RBS has announced its inaugural Social Bond to help conserve and create jobs in deprived areas of the UK. Raising £650m, this is the first issuance under RBS’ framework for green, social or sustainability bonds, and will provide finance to SMEs.

A longer read – A study into the challenges and benefits of commissioning Social Impact Bonds in the UK, and the potential for replication and scaling: Final report is a new report commissioned by the DCMS. Civil Society provides commentary on the publication.

Legal and Regulatory

BEIS Committee calls for measures to help avoid next corporate collapse, following its recent public evidence sessions examining Thomas Cook. In a letter to the Secretary of State for BEIS, the Committee makes recommendations on the role of the board, clawback on bonuses, tackling late payments to small business, and audit issues including conflicts of interest and the use of ‘goodwill’, and calls on the Government to press ahead with audit reforms and replacing the FRC with the proposed new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority.

HM Treasury announces the Net Zero Review into how the low carbon transition will be funded and how to ensure a fair balance of contributions. The Review’s Terms of Reference have been published, as has a press release from the Committee on Climate Change.

A longer read – Transparency International UK has published updated guidance on its Global Anti-Bribery Guidance Portal. The free business tool contains 18-modules of guidance on topics such as risk assessment, due diligence, managing third parties and aligning incentives to behaviour, and covers areas of corruption risk such as political engagement, and transparency in corporate reporting (press release).

The European Council has adopted legislative reforms to create the new benchmarks contributing to sustainable finance (the climate transition benchmarks and the Paris-aligned benchmarks) and transparency obligations for sustainable investments, as part of the EU’s Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth. The legislation will be signed in the week of 25 November and then published in the Official Journal of the EU (press release). 

Oil company Total faces historic legal action in France for human rights and environmental violations in Uganda. In a press release, Friends of the Earth announced that six NGOs are seeking emergency proceedings against Total for non-compliance with its legal obligations under the French duty of vigilance law, which aims to address corporate negligence.


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.

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, published up to Thursday, 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 November 15, 2019.