The Impact Economy Brief

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:

“Social impact bond”

Editor’s Pick

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

Measuring Purpose: An Integrated Framework is a short paper from, among others, Clara Barby of the Impact Management Project, Sir Ronald Cohen of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, Colin Mayer of Said Business School and George Serafeim of Harvard Business School, setting out a three-step reporting framework that enables stakeholders to assess a company’s performance against its stated purpose (landing page).

Impact Business

Survey – ReGenerate, an organisation that works to support the development of purpose-driven business, is running a survey of purpose-driven entrepreneurs to find out what support they need to thrive in the UK. For more, ReGenerate’s latest blog reviews the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, and comments on this in relation to purpose and public trust in business.
A (much) longer read – The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review is the published outcome from the review led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta of the University of Cambridge, which sets out an approach to valuing natural assets and managing nature’s portfolio for the preservation of planet and economy (press release). For more, the Editor of Business Green, James S. Murray, provides commentary on the Review’s context and the main lines of criticism and agreement in response to its publication.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has published five Universal circular economy policy goals, in order to provide a framework for governments, cities and businesses to foster innovation and decouple growth from finite resource consumption and environmental degradation (landing page). For more, the Foundation’s blog considers the importance of circularity metrics and the development of this aspect of the corporate measurement landscape. And, UK Research and Innovation is funding the new National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Hub, led by the University of Exeter, to work with other such hubs to explore how reusing waste materials in a range of industries could deliver environmental and economic benefits.
Webinars – esela Virtual Conference 2021, 8 – 31 March. esela – The legal network for social impact, will hold its 2021 conference in March, covering topics including: ESG, impact investing, purposeful business, environment, sustainability and business and human rights. The conference will have a spaced agenda, with online sessions taking place over the month. The agenda will include curated networking, knowledge sharing on legal structures and deals, and discussion of market developments.
Bates Wells has published its 2020 Annual Report on its climate commitments, which shares how the firm has responded to the goals it set following its formal recognition of the Climate Emergency and Biodiversity Crisis in 2019, which include taking the crisis into account when developing strategy, using the law to address the crisis and collaborating for greater impact (press release).

Impact Investment

The Impact Investing Institute has published its Impact Report 2019-20 and set out some of its goals for 2021, including comment on the launch of the Impact Investing Adopters Forum with Pensions for Purpose, for pension funds, investment consultants and fiduciary managers who have committed to the Impact Investing Principles for Pensions. The Institute has also recently launched its Impact Investing Learning Hub, designed to help organisations and individuals learn more about impact investing.
A longer read – Impact investing decision-making: Insights on financial performance is a new report from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), which explores financial performance across asset classes, through synthesising existing studies on performance based on the GIIN’s 2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey (landing page).
What good impact practice looks like and how it helps drive results in startups. Nicholas Andreou, Investment Manager at Big Society Capital (BSC), shares examples of start-ups in BSC’s portfolio that are developing their approaches to impact management and how this helps drive results.
Gender-Smart Investing Journeys: Diane Isenberg, Ceniarth. GenderSmart interviews the founder of family office Ceniarth, which is focused on impact-first investments that benefit marginalised global communities, about its gender lens strategy and lessons learned since it was founded.
Creativity, Culture & Capital is a new impact investing initiative from an international collaboration, including Nesta, the British Council and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment. The initiative aims to demonstrate the benefits of a global impact investment fund for the inclusive creative economy, and to serve as a crucible for this effort. For more, Nesta announced its involvement in the platform.
In his 2021 letter to CEOs, BlackRock Chairman and CEO, Larry Fink, analyses the pandemic’s impact on accelerating climate action and sustainable investment, noting a ‘sustainability premium’ and a focus on disclosure, states that companies with well-articulated Net Zero strategies will distinguish themselves, and describes a path to durable shareholder profits through purpose and stakeholder value. For more, BlackRock has also written to clients outlining its progress on its goal to make sustainability its new standard for investing.

Legal and Regulatory

Environmental sustainability agreements and competition law. The UK Competition & Markets Authority has published guidance for businesses to help them achieve environmental goals within the bounds of competition law, in relation to ‘sustainability agreements’, such as when businesses combine expertise to make their products more energy efficient or agree to facilitate package recycling and reduce waste (press release).
Further to its recent consultation, the IFRS Foundation Trustees announce next steps in response to broad demand for global sustainability standards, including: more detailed analysis on the feedback received, the formation of a Trustee Steering Committee to oversee work and an additional requirement for urgency to deliver global standards, most notably on climate.
The Charity Commission, the registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, is to consult on revised guidance on responsible investments, meaning financial investments that align with a charity’s mission and purpose. The Commission plans to publish draft guidance in spring 2021, supported by a refreshed interpretation of the law in this area.
EU Consultation – The European Commission has launched a consultation on the establishment of a European single access point (ESAP) for financial and non-financial information publicly disclosed by companies, which aims to improve access to financial and sustainability-related information for a range of interested stakeholders. The consultation closes on 3 March 2021 (landing page). For more, ShareAction has published its response to the consultation, setting out its recommendations for putting sustainability data on an equal footing with financial data.
The Investment Association has published its Shareholder Priorities for 2021: Supporting Long Term Value in UK Listed Companies, setting out investor expectations of companies on a number of stewardship issues, including TCFD-aligned reporting, accounting for climate-related matters, engaging with stakeholders and improving diversity.

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 February 5, 2021.