Development finance topics

OECD Social Impact Investment Initiative


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Social impact investing provides finance to organisations addressing social and/or environmental needs with the explicit expectation of a measurable social, as well as financial, return. It thus aims to foster economic development while achieving social outcomes. It is one way of channelling more resources towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Impact Imperative for Sustainable Development


OECD has launched a call for action on the Impact Imperative around 4 areas: financing, innovation, policy and data:

  • Financing
    • Ensure financing is going where it is needed most and that no one is left behind.
    • Focus on engaging local investors to build sustainable financing markets.
    • Transition from concessional finance to commercial sustainability.
  • Innovation
    • Catalyse innovation and experimentation in addressing social, environmental and economic challenges.
    • Develop in ecosystem of actor that promotes innovation.
    • Recognise the role for the public sector in scaling pilots that are working.
  • Policy
    • Require the ex post assessment outcomes of policy initiatives.
    • Ensure that impact represents a substantive commitment between the public and private sector.
    • Leverage development co-operation as a vector for policy transfer.
  • Data
    • Facilitate transparent, standardised and interoperable data sharing.
    • Ensure funding of data infrastructure.
    • Develop a framework and coordinate approaches for assessing impact.


The OECD publication Social Impact Investment: The Impact Imperative for Sustainable Development has brought new evidence on the role of SII in financing sustainable development and provided recommendations for delivering on the “impact imperative” of financing sustainable development.

Impact Standards for Financing Sustainable Development

These Impact Standards for Financing Sustainable Development have been developed by the OECD and UNDP in close consultation with practitioners in the context of the DAC Community of Practice on Private Finance for Sustainable Development. They are grounded in high-level principles and can be used alongside other tools and frameworks by donors, development finance institutions and private actors seeking to have real and positive impacts on the achievement of the SDGs. A voluntary and freely available public good, the Impact Standards will help public and private investors build stronger systems to understand and critically evaluate their impact – both positive and negative on people and planet.

Our work

Over 2019-2020, the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate shall pursue a broad cross-cutting programme of work on impact measurement and management of SDG-related investments, which responds to the growing necessity for public and private players to better demonstrate sustainable development results.

This work aims to:

  • Establish common lexicon and framework for measuring the impact of investments targeting sustainable development
  • Provide policy guidance to improve the quality and standardisation of impact metrics as a crucial step to foster resource mobilisation for the SDGs
  • Work towards building global consensus for impact measurement standards

Since 2018, the OECD has joined the Impact Management Project Structured Network as the partner in charge of developing a conceptual impact framework, providing impact categories for organizing and reporting data about goals and performance.


The OECD has been playing a key role in the Global Social Impact Investment Initiative launched in 2013 during the U.K. Presidency of the G8. Its report “Social Impact Investment: Building the Evidence Base” (2015) called for developing global standards on definitions, data collection, impact measurement and evaluation of policies.

Historically, the OECD has been working in close partnership with the Global Social Impact Investment Steering Group, the World Economic Forum, the Global Impact Investing Network, and other platforms at the national and regional level.


Since 2016, the OECD has organised a series of expert meetings which produced (1) a set of principles on transparency and data sharing, (2) an initial data reporting framework, (3) a database of databases of relevant existing publicly available data and (4) coordination of major initiatives on impact management and measurement. In parallel, regional workshops of practitioners were held in Africa, Asia and Latin America in order to discuss the market status, actors and business models of impact investing. The OECD also performed a series of case studies on social and inclusive businesses to better understand financing patterns and needs.


The OECD policy framework on Social Impact Investment provides the analytical basis for international comparison. This comprehensive, holistic and cross-sectoral approach applies to donor and developing countries, and guides policy makers as they engage in SII-related policy design, implementation and review. The policy mapping identified 590 public initiatives undertaken by 45 countries all over the world in order to foster SII both domestically and in development co-operation.