Thought Leadership

Responding Quickly to a World Facing Rapid Change

Themes from SOCAP18, the 2018 GIIN Investors Forum, and more

This blog explores a key theme that emerged during SOCAP18,  the GIIN Investor Forum, and other Fall 2018 events: how impact investors can respond to urgent issues in our rapidly changing world. It is part two in a three-part series by Mission Investors Exchange on significant discussions in today's impact investing community.
 Click here for part one, which provides an overview of key topics. Click here for part two in the series, which focuses on how foundations and others are deepening their commitments to equity in race and gender. Visit here to view information on MIE’s sessions on racial equity, inclusion, and diversity at SOCAP18, including a recording of a mainstage event featuring Sharon Alpert of Nathan Cummings Foundation and Fred Blackwell of San Francisco Foundation.

Although impact investing has moved forward in leaps and bounds, many of our world’s challenges seem to be getting worse— and at an alarming rate. “It is increasingly clear our financial system is not working,” noted Amit Bouri, CEO of the GIIN, at the GIIN Investor Forum. “It’s not serving the planet, not serving the people, and not serving investors.” What will it take to address urgent needs, while also taking advantage of fast-changing opportunities?
In this third blog in a three-part series of reflections emerging from SOCAP18, the GIIN Investor Forum, and the High Water Women's Conference, we highlight several ways that foundations and others are grappling with the urgent, rapidly changing issues facing our world.

Can We Stay Under 1.5 Degrees Celsius of Warming?

On October 8th, a new climate change report found that many of the consequences of climate change, including global famines, flooding, mass displacement, and natural disasters, may begin affecting us at lower temperatures (an increase of 1.5 degrees celsius compared to pre-industrial levels) than scientists had previously predicted. Through this new forecast, we could see severe consequences by as early as 2040.
The urgency and severity of this global challenge was a significant theme at the GIIN Investor Forum. “We cannot afford to wait anymore,” said Brune Poirson, French Secretary of State, Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, urging the audience to recognize that speed is of the essence to prevent further environmental damage. Investors including Packard Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and others have worked to take these challenges on, investing in conservation, divesting from fossil fuels, and more.  

Can We Provide Support to the 65.5 Million Global Refugees?

According to the National Foundation for American Policy, 46% of America's top venture-funded companies had at least one immigrant founder. At the same time, notes the State Department, there are over 20 million people in the world today who have crossed international borders in search of refuge. Together with those displaced inside their own countries, we're seeing one of "the greatest movements of people since the Second World War." How are impact investors responding to this global crisis, as well as the local issues unique to each region of the world? 
Sessions at conferences featured the work of Open Society Foundations, Refugee Investment Network, TIDES, KOIS Invest and others. Click here for MIE's library on this issue, and here for a list of foundation and others investing in immigrants, refugees, and migrant communities.

Will Opportunity Zones Have the Positive Impact They Promise?

Written into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was one of the most significant new tax incentives in America, poised to shape investments in low income communities for the next decade: the Opportunity Zone (OZ) program. As the legislation evolves quickly, leaders from foundations, CDFIs, and more are working in real-time to realize the potential of OZs and identify risks to communities— before this fast-forming market moves ahead without community needs at the center of decisions.  
Several SOCAP sessions, featuring leaders including John Lettieri of Economic Innovation Group, Fran Seegull of U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, and Dr. Rajiv Shah of The Rockefeller Foundation examined how impact can be prioritized in underserved communities, how data and technology can target investments for equitable growth, and what foundations and others can do to ensure community voices are represented in the conversation. Click here for MIE’s OZ resource library, and click here to watch a recording of our October webinar on OZs.

What's Next In Tech?

Blockchain, AI, big data, and machine learning were just some of the technology innovations that the field is hoping to leverage for social change, with applications that support financial inclusion, land registry, and the exchange of personal health records and health information. Examples of promising innovation include the work of Blockchain for Social Impact, Access Ventures, and Omidyar Network.

Can Impact Investing Support a Thriving Democracy?

With the US mid-term elections recently passed, we've been reflecting on the role that impact investing plays in supporting a vibrant civic life. This topic showed up in one session at SOCAP, where panelists from Amalgamated Bank, Way To Win, New Media Ventures, Investing in US, and Propel Capital discussed the ways that capital can be deployed at the intersection of civic and political engagement in the United States. Click here for an article by Patrice Schneider of Media Development Investment Fund and Bruce Sievers of Stanford University exploring the relationship between democracy and independent journalism. If you have feedback to share, please let us know as we develop resources for the community.

These are just some of the biggest recurring themes we noticed in events in Fall 2018. If we're missing a topic that you noticed, we welcome your feedback! Please email Anjali Deshmukh to share your thoughts.

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