The Impact Economy Brief | 10 January

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

Impact Economy

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…

Why the Guardian became a B Corp: ‘We want to do more than talk’. The Guardian explains why it became a B Corp and outlines some of its key commitments, including its climate pledge.

Impact Business

Is it possible to ‘retrofit’ purpose? Raconteur suggests some key considerations for developing purpose-beyond-profit within established businesses.

What does Boris Johnson’s new government mean for UK social enterprise? Pioneers Post provides commentary on what the result of the general election might mean for the social enterprise movement, presenting insights from a range of sector participants.

Martha Lane Fox on using tech for good. In Digital Agenda, Baroness Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of, Twitter board member and founder of think-tank Doteveryone, calls for the tech sector to make its primary goal the creation of a better world.

A longer read – How the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) new standard for transparency in reporting tax can help raise money for SDGs. Tim Mohin, Chief Executive at GRI, writes for Ethical Corporation about the GRI’s new tax transparency standard and how this could support global development.

Co-op targets 100% recyclable packaging by summer 2020. Edie reports that the Co-op is ahead of schedule to meet its 2023 recyclable packaging goal.

Impact Investment

World’s first $10m sanitation development impact bond (DIB) launches to bring safe sanitation to some of the poorest households in Cambodia. The Stone Family Foundation, USAID, iDE and Social Finance worked together to develop and launch the DIB. (Bates Wells’ legal and Advisory & Impact teams were pleased to support the Stone Family Foundation with the documentation for the DIB.)

Blog – Where the FT’s City editor got it wrong. In response to the FT, Will Goodhart, Chief Executive of CFA UK and director of the Impact Investing Institute, addresses the notion that impact investing necessitates concessionary returns and highlights the choice that impact investing gives investors and entrepreneurs to pursue positive impact, whilst noting the role of the EU’s intended ‘taxonomy’.

Financing fossil fuels risks a repeat of the 2008 crash. Here’s why. Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Jennifer Morgan, writes for the World Economic Forum about the urgent need for substantive changes in the financing and subsidising of carbon-intensive energy, and the risk to the world economy of failing to take meaningful action quickly.

Podcast – Why it’s time to invest in the circular economy. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation interviews Luigi Riccardo from the Innovation Center at Intesa Sanpaolo, about how Intesa Sanpaolo has made the circular economy central to its strategy and aims to support businesses, especially SMEs, in making the transition.

Norrsken Foundation closes first round of new impact VC fund, raising €61m and aiming for €100m. Anchor investors include H&M’s founding Persson family and the founders of Swedish tech companies such as Klarna, King and Mojang. Norrsken says the fund aims to prove that market returns can be combined with positive impact creation.

Legal and Regulatory

A longer read – Assess, assure and inform: improving audit quality and effectiveness is the final report from the independent review by Sir Donald Brydon into the quality and effectiveness of audit (landing page, and commentary from The Chartered Governance Institute). The report’s recommendations include directors making a Public Interest Statement about how they view the company’s legal, financial, social and environmental responsibilities to the public interest, and explaining how the company has discharged its self-declared public interest obligations and the effectiveness of its actions to mitigate externalities. The report acknowledges widespread pressure for the interests of wider stakeholders to be included, as part of restoring trust in business, and recommends an auditor statement on whether the company’s s.172 statement is based on “observed reality”, through the auditor’s knowledge of the company and its processes.

A longer read – The European Economic and Social Committee has published its opinion on a binding UN treaty on business and human rights. It calls for active EU engagement in the negotiation process and acknowledges the need for global measures to help protect responsible companies against unfair competition, including recommending mandatory due diligence obligations for transnational corporations and other business enterprises including their subsidiaries (press release).

A longer read – ESMA has published the findings of its examination of Undue short-term pressure on corporations, making recommendations to the European Commission including: promoting a single set of international ESG disclosure standards, requiring non-financial statements in annual financial reports, and amendments to the Non-Financial Reporting Directive to establish principles for high quality non-financial information and specific disclosure requirements. Among other topics, the report also considers long-term engagement by institutional investors on ESG issues. (Press release.)

Climate change: new rules agreed to determine which investments are green. European Parliament negotiators have reached an agreement with the European Council on new criteria to determine whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable, for the intended EU ‘taxonomy’ regulation.

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 January 10, 2020.