New reporting standards to enhance global impact investment

The Global Impact Investing Network (www.thegiin.org) yesterday (4 October) released the second version of the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS). This is a standard set of metrics by which organizations involved in impact investing can chart their progress and the success of their investments in terms of social and environmental impact.
It will be increasingly important for organizations wishing to raise social capital, as well as for social impact investors, to be able to work to a clear set of measurements. In the past there has been some confusion about how to balance financial returns against environmental, social, governance and other gains and this has hindered investment efficiency.
IRIS provides a common set of social and environmental metrics and definitions for reporting the performance of impact investments. According to the GIIN, IRIS 2.0 incorporates significant enhancements to the original IRIS social and environmental reporting framework released in July 2009.
The release coincides with the launch of a new IRIS website (http://iris.thegiin.org) which makes it easier for companies and funds to identify specific IRIS performance indicators that pertain to their social and environmental goals. The new website also provides guidance to investors interested in adopting IRIS as a performance tracking tool across investment portfolios.
The improvements were made based on critical feedback from industry experts, funds piloting the original IRIS reporting standards, and other stakeholders who were engaged during a public comment period. The revisions make the IRIS reporting framework more relevant and accessible for the diverse businesses and funds that receive impact investment capital.
Sarah Gelfand, Director of IRIS at the GIIN, said in a press release: “We are extremely proud to launch this second version of the IRIS reporting standards. The enhancements to IRIS represent a new level of coordination and sophistication for the field of impact measurement, and the new IRIS website gives mission-driven investors and businesses a straightforward interface for identifying the IRIS social and environmental performance measures that will help them track and improve their work. This upgrade was a truly collaborative process, and we are especially grateful for the valuable input we received from our partners.”
The IRIS initiative includes the development and management of an IRIS data repository, which is a hub for IRIS-aligned performance data from organizations receiving impact investment capital. The IRIS data repository enables benchmarking and other aggregate analyses critical to the growth of the impact investing industry.
Impact investors and investment recipients are encouraged to provide feedback on IRIS 2.0 during an open comment period in coming months, to improve the next edition.
IRIS is an initiative of the Global Impact Investing Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the scale and effectiveness of impact investing by bringing together key players in the sector. The GIIN builds critical infrastructure and supports activities, education, and research that help accelerate the development of a coherent impact investing industry.
This work is informed by the GIIN Investors’ Council, a diverse membership group comprised of leading impact investors. To serve the needs of the greater impact investing community, the GIIN is also launching ImpactBase, a database of impact investment funds designed to reduce search and transaction costs across the impact investing industry. More information from their website.

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