As impact investing pushes into the mainstream we’re seeing the emergence of a mass of different frameworks and approaches for how best to measure and manage an organisation’s approach. 

At best, the result is confusion and double-counting, at worst, it is an opportunity for impact-washing as less-than-rigorous strategies seek to trade off the name ‘impact’. 

A new online course (offered for free on Coursera) seeks to guide organisations on the practice of impact management, and how to align their ESG or impact activities and reporting with emerging global standards.

It’s called Impact Measurement & Management for the SDGs, and it’s sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is the organisations that developed and launched the SDGs, seeking to deal with issues as broad as climate change, poverty, racial and gender equity, food, health, education, clean water.

“We are honored to have been chosen by UNDP SDG Impact to lead the development of a global online training program to help investors aligning their portfolios with the SDGs learn how to implement robust and auditable impact measurement and management practices,” said Cathy Clark.

The SDGs can’t be left to governments to manage alone, and it’s a welcome to see that the private sector, businesses and investors, have stepped up to integrate the Global Goals into their business and investment goals. In some ways the SDGs represent demand, they identify clear need, and while these needs are potentially life-saving (rather than simple commercial fancy) they can be alleviated through businesses adapting their offering to serve a new customer base. 

“We want to encourage investors—even those who don’t see themselves as ‘impact investors’—to direct capital toward achieving the SDGs. The market has not uniformly addressed investors’ needs to show their stakeholders and the public how they are investing in the well-being of all people, the planet and society,” said SDG Impact Director Elizabeth Boggs-Davidsen. 

“In this age of social distancing, we wanted to provide online training that would enable investors to become well-versed in applying accepted impact measurement and management (IMM) practices and standards that enable them to show how they are helping to move the world toward fulfilling the SDGs. We are confident in the work CASE is doing to design the training.”

The course helps practitioners to understand the raft of new acronyms, standards and systems. And aims to shift business operations and investment capital towards impact on the SDGs. 

It’s produced by CASE at Duke University, with Cathy Clarke as the lead. It consolidates decades of research into a modern lesson plan delivered through videos and case studies. 

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