Sapna Shah, Amit Bouri, GIIN

Climate solutions investing will be the chief priority for the Global Impact Investing Network in the coming years, New Private Markets has learned.

This will involve engaging large institutional investors to pursue climate impact investments and building up impact integrity among climate investments. The new multi-year strategic plan will be led by Sapna Shah, who was announced as GIIN’s first president earlier this week.

Shah joined GIIN in 2010 and was most recently chief programme manager and operating officer. Chief executive Amit Bouri, who founded the organisation in 2009, retains the CEO role and will focus on engagement with external stakeholders and investors.

GIIN’s new focus reflects an evolution in priorities for the organisation, which has historically focused on scaling impact investing across both social and environmental themes. Many of its founding members (for example, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Omidyar Network) began their impact investing programmes in pursuit of social themes.

“There is a gap in the amount of capital flowing towards climate solutions,” Bouri told New Private Markets. Global organisations have different estimates of the gap between capital available and investment needed to mitigate climate change – but by any measure, the gap is enormous. The World Bank estimates that $2.4 trillion of investment is needed each year between now and 2030. In 2022, a report by the Rockefeller Foundation and Boston Consulting Group found that only 16 percent of global climate investment needs are being met.

Many of the world’s largest institutional investors have started to address the climate crisis, as Bouri acknowledges. “There are a lot of high-level commitments to climate and net zero – but most of the bigger investors are initially focused on how to decarbonise their biggest holdings. For most institutional investors, that will mean working with the listed companies.”

Many investors have also created dedicated pools of capital for climate-themed investments. But investments from these pools often do not have the additionality and intentionality to make a meaningful contribution to climate change mitigation, said Bouri. “Everything is getting ‘green’ and ‘climate’ labels slapped on. It’s not all wrong, but it’s hard for investors to navigate which investments will actually make the most difference,” he said.

“It’s a critical time to accelerate the flow of capital to some of these new technologies and solutions. A lot of these technologies and solutions will need to be operational at scale by 2030.”

GIIN plans to address this by engaging with investors to unlock fresh capital for climate impact. Such engagement involves outreach programmes, education and resources to map out the landscape of investment opportunities. “For many investors, these are areas that they haven’t invested in historically, so they actually want to get up to speed and learn. We can help them understand what good looks like,” Bouri said.

The other aspect is to build integrity in impact investments by developing GIIN’s suite of impact metrics and benchmarks. GIIN maintains a publicly available digital impact data management platform, IRIS+, which currently has more than 40,000 users. Since 2022, GIIN has been aggregating the data collected on IRIS+ to develop benchmarks for impact in energy, agriculture and financial inclusion themes. It is also developing benchmarks for forestry and healthcare impact, according to Bouri.

The benchmarks have three key aspects: they allow investors and managers to compare their impact to what their peers are achieving; they produce ratios of impact per dollar invested; and they show the investor’s contribution to global goals such as SDGs and net-zero global emissions by 2050. “Driving marketplace integrity and rigour like this is really key to helping the impact investing market to scale.”