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In search of impact - Measuring the full value of capital: Update: The Cambridge Impact Framework

January 2019 – Supporting progress against SDGs has become one of the main objectives of the sustainable finance industry. However, measurement of this progress at fund level from both institutional and retail investors is still only developing. Although many challenges remain to be solved, the Investment Leaders Group, convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has designed a set of six open-source metrics which investors can use as proxies for their progress towards the SDGs.

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In Search of Impact Report 2019Companies are increasingly seeking to reduce their environmental impacts, increase resource efficiency and mitigate risks from climate change. The Cambridge Impact Framework offers a new approach for the investment community to measure how this progress is being achieved, using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as measures of performance. The set of science-based metrics works at both corporate and fund level and is aimed to be calculable using ESG and publicly available data.

A broad range of stakeholders, from pension funds to investment consultants, insurance companies to investment managers and individual savers, all agree that meaningful data on the social and environmental impact of funds could be transformational for the investment industry. All investment has an impact on the real world. To a large extent these impacts – for example job creation or natural resource consumption – are opaque to investors, with limited information available from standard information sources. The Cambridge Impact Framework provides investors with a simple dashboard to check their alignment with an otherwise complex web of SDGs. The dashboard comprises six core themes which are themselves derived from CISL’s Rewiring the Economy plan.


The Investment Leaders Group (ILG) is a global network of pension funds, insurers and asset managers committed to advancing the practice of responsible investment. It is a voluntary initiative, driven by its members, facilitated by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), and supported by academics in the University of Cambridge. The ILG´s vision is an investment chain in which economic, social and environmental sustainability are delivered as an outcome of the investment process as investors go about generating robust, long-term returns. It produces thought leadership, methodologies and tools to help advance best practice in responsible investment.

Citing this report

Please refer to this report as: University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2019, January). In search of impact: Measuring the full value of capital. Update: The Cambridge Impact Framework. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Published: January 2019

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Author and acknowledgements

This report was written by a CISL team led by Dr Jake Reynolds, and including Faty Dembele, Jasminka Enderle, Kajetan Czyz, Liam Walsh and Gianna Huhn; with input from Dr Chris Tuppen, Advancing Sustainability; Dr Sakis Kotsantonis and Bronagh Ward, KKS Advisors; Dr Alexandra Winkels, Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge; Justin DeKoszmovszky, Inbonis, and Dr Tatiana Thieme, UCL. We are very grateful to the members of the Investment Leaders Group (ILG) for feedback and comment throughout. In particular, we would like to thank Aegon Asset Management, HSBC, PIMCO, UBP for their immense help testing the metrics.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of their companies, CISL, the wider University of Cambridge or clients.