Shaping the Future of Impact Investing

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Impact investing is an investment approach across asset classes that can reconcile shortcomings in traditional financial markets and create transformative impact. It intentionally seeks to create both financial return and positive social or environmental impact that is actively measured.
Today’s investors are facing a paradigm shift, both in recognizing that old ways of doing business are no longer viable from a social and environmental perspective, but also in seeing the distinct competitive advantage of being a leader in sustainable business.  With a wave of millennials demanding portfolios that reflect their values and trillions of dollars in wealth transferred over the next decade, the industry ecosystem is certain to face transformation. Yet there is an urgent need to move investors from theory to practice and to foster opportunities for action, as those who do not act and innovate will soon be faced with competitors who do.
There are now investment opportunities for nearly every investor, regardless of their target geography, asset class, impact theme, or rate of return, and many traditional investors now seek to get involved. Policy movements are also enabling impact investments more than ever before. Yet to date these players are operating in a fragmented market and in need of guidance on how to engage fully in this innovative approach.




The Shaping the Future of Sustainable and Impact Investing initiative aims to accelerate the systemic evolution from the short-term investment mind-set to one that focuses on long-term investments and sustainable impact, resulting in an increase in the flow of capital into impact investments. 
2016-2017 will be the fourth year of this initiative.  In Phase 1 (2012-2015), the initiative set a solid foundation for the World Economic Forum’s ongoing thought leadership in this sector via a series of formative reports. We progressed from a top-level survey of the impact investing ecosystem to practical guides for key stakeholders – in particular, institutional investors and families. We also developed The Davos Game, a series of simulations to allow mainstream investors to familiarize themselves with the space and all of which are available to the public. In Phase 2 (2016-2018), the initiative will mobilize investors, governments, and impact enterprises to tackle existing roadblocks and provide tangible pathways to scale the sector.
Among the areas of focus are:

  • A series of targeted industry and thematic interventions designed to further build the capabilities of the sector

  • A global cross-mentoring exchange between investors and enterprises to catalyse trust and progress

  • Exploring opportunities to engage private capital in sustainable solutions for displaced populations

  • An ongoing engagement with private investors and their families to enhance their impact on society

Contact Information

Katherine Brown
Global Leadership Fellow
Practice Lead – Investors Industries
World Economic Forum