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).

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 impact management 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 are designed to help public and private investors build stronger systems to understand and critically evaluate their impact – both positive and negative on people and planet.


  • The Impact Imperative for Sustainable Development

The 2019 OECD publication Social Impact Investment: The Impact Imperative for Sustainable Development 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. 


The OECD 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.