The universe of potential impact investments consists of various and diverse approaches to tackling social and/or environmental challenges. In the first instance, it is therefore important to clearly define the impact theme(s) that an investor might want to target. Social themes, amongst others, include financial inclusion, empowerment of women, job creation, affordable housing, education, or health. Examples of environmental themes are climate change adaptation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, green buildings, or sustainable agriculture. Investors should choose one or a combination of impact themes through individual thematic products or broader portfolios with an impact/sustainability focus underlying investment selection.
It can be helpful to use the UN SDGs framework as a guide. While the SDGs themselves have been set up to focus on high-level topics, there is an underlying framework of specific targets that helps to make the impact of investments more tangible and easily trackable. The business cases at the end of this guide illustrate how the SDGs can be mapped against an impact investing product.