Steering the impact community to mobilise capital where it is needed most

It has been close to a month since the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), in partnership with SpainNAB, hosted the GSG Global Impact Summit 2023 on 2-3 October 2023 in Málaga, Spain.

We brought together 1000+ practitioners and leaders from the worlds of finance, business, policy-making, and civil society from around the globe. It was our first in-person event in three years following the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was wonderful to welcome around 500 people—all delighted to be back and itching to work together in real-time again—with handshakes and hugs.

Before the main event, SpainNAB held their roadshow—Camino al Impacto—across four cities, bringing impact to the entire host country. Spain alone represented over 300 participants at the GSG Summit, from social entrepreneurs to high-level luminaries, leading investors, and philanthropists.

Centered around three core themes, our Summit celebrated achievements and identified strategies and actions designed to deliver positive impact at scale in the future. Here are my reflections on the Summit’s most impactful moments:

Using the tools of impact to achieve global impact transparency

We are clearly moving into a new era of global impact transparency, as former Commissioner of the U.S.  Securities and Exchange Commission, Allison Herren Lee, and International Sustainability Standards Board Chair, Emmanuel Faber, shared with us during their insightful keynotes.

Our President, Sir Ronald Cohen’s, online discussions with the Rt Hon Gordon Brown and leading economist Martin Wolf set out powerful arguments for addressing rising inequality and climate change through the tools of impact.

Participants intently followed issues such as demystifying impact valuation, building audit protocols, and assuring impact performance. Our numerous, bustling breakout sessions, led by experts including Jo Fackler, Mick McCreless, and Chul Woo Moon, demonstrated the hunger for clarity, consistency, and implementation of impact across our community.

Mobilising capital for people and planet

Mobilising impact capital worldwide was a priority for all attendees. Discussions touched on every aspect, from nature and bio to place-based investing, impact for global health to sustainable cities. Our panels pushed the frontiers of impact through blended and catalytic finance, entrepreneurship, innovation, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The Rt Hon Nick Hurd, the GSG’s new Chair, set out a clear call to action on what we can all do together to mobilise more impact capital to where it is most needed. Global leaders in impact, including Ibukun Awosika, our new Vice-Chair, and Margot Brandenburg, from the Ford Foundation’s Mission Investments team, spoke about the need to continue to advance sustainable development and impact investing—both at the global and local levels, demonstrating impact for local communities at scale.

Building and accelerating impact economies

With representatives from Japan to Brazil, South Africa to Norway, and China to Canada, this Summit had diversity through and through. I was delighted that we could announce the six new countries which have joined our network of National Advisory Boards (NABs): Sri Lanka, Peru, Belgium, Norway, Greece, and Malaysia, with four more expected by the year-end.

Impact approaches to inclusion, gender investing, equity, and just transitions were all covered across our breakout sessions as we explored how to accelerate impact and social economies.

Steering impact investing and economies into the future

The impact investing community has come a long way over the past ten years, and as the GSG’s CEO, I am excited to see the progress we’re making. This was the GSG’s best event by a mile. From great speakers and excellent panels to a wonderful location, contagious energy, and a fascinating crowd, the feedback I’ve personally received has been nothing but positive!

I asked a repeated question throughout the Summit: “From what you’ve heard at this GSG Impact Summit, do you believe that impact investing and impact economies will be substantially stronger in the next three to five years?”

The answer was a resounding 99% yes! We’re on the right trajectory but must continue to work together to deliver positive impact at scale in the future.

Cliff Prior

Read more about the GSG’s Summit here, and please do share your experiences to inspire others.