A new Impact Investing conference by The Economist
Risk, return and impact: a new role for capital markets in building a better world
Join editors of The Economist and more than 200 leading financiers, institutional investors, policymakers, academics, impact investors and philanthropies to analyse the main opportunities and obstacles to the mainstreaming of impact investment.
Pledged to sustainable and socially responsible investing
The relationship between the private capital markets and the well-being of society and the planet has become a hot topic. In 2015, in New York and Paris, the world’s governments signed up to ambitious goals to curb climate change and generate the sort of economic growth that benefits everyone, not just a wealthy minority – goals that it is estimated will require over $2.5 trillion a year of additional private investment. At the same time, partly in response to criticisms that irresponsible short-termism in the capital markets caused the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession that followed, some leading capital-market institutions have pledged to take a more long-term, sustainable and socially responsible approach to investing.
The growing demand for a more socially-responsible, purpose-driven finance has been best illustrated by the emergence of a new approach to putting capital to work called “impact investing.” Having started out as a niche activity, largely practised by wealthy and philanthropically-inclined individuals, impact investment is now championed by a growing number of leading institutions in the capital markets. As a recent G8 taskforce on impact investing predicted, perhaps the 20th Century approach to investing, based on risk and return, will be replaced by a 21st Century model built on risk, return and impact.
Yet such a shift is by no means inevitable. Critics question whether the recent commitment of mainstream finance to impact investing is more than skin deep. Meanwhile, the election of Donald Trump as President, and his inclusion in his government of several people closely associated with an earlier, more free-wheeling approach to investing, raises the question of whether there will be anything socially- or environmentally-responsible about the future direction of capitalism, at least the American version of it.
Trillions of dollars at stake
We will convene, under the chairmanship of Economist editors, leading financiers, institutional investors, policymakers, academics, impact investors and philanthropies to analyse the main opportunities and obstacles to the mainstreaming of impact investment and to identify what needs to be done to make it happen. It will be an important conversation: how trillions of dollars will be invested is at stake.
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