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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

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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Companies are increasingly seeking to reduce their environmental impacts, increase resource efficiency and mitigate risks from climate change. The Sustainable Investment 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 Sustainable Investment 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 Sustainable Investment Framework. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

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No Financial Advice

1.1 The results presented in this report or the Framework do not comprise, constitute or provide, nor should they be relied upon, as investment or financial advice, credit ratings, an advertisement, an invitation, a confirmation, an offer or solicitation, or recommendation, to buy or sell any security or other financial, credit or lending product or to engage in any investment activity, or an offer of any financial service.  They are designed for research use only and are not designed for, or tested for providing information on which to base financial, investment or operational decisions.  The results presented in this report or the Framework do not purport to quantify risk to a fund (or any part thereof), nor make any representation in regards to performance, strategy, prospects, creditworthiness or risk associated with any investment, nor their suitability for purchases, holding or sale in the content of a particular portfolio. The results presented in this report or the Framework will be provided with the understanding and expectation that you will, with due care, conduct your own investigation and evaluation of each security or other investment that is under consideration for purchase, holding or sale.

Scope of Securities

1.2 The results presented in this report and the Framework (both fund and investment) will apply only to the list of securities provided by an individual user at a given point in time.

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1.3 All data utilised in the production of this report must be the property of or lawfully licensed to the user or lawfully obtained from a third party provider under the terms of a licensing or other agreement. The choice of data provider is solely the decision of the user and should not be taken as any endorsement of, nor any statement as to the accuracy, completeness of the data used, by the University of Cambridge.

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1.4 This report and the Framework (as applicable) are provided to users “as is” and “as available” and users receive no warranties, representations, conditions or commitments of any kind, express or implied, with respect to them or their content, including any implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose or non-infringement or other warranties or conditions implied by statute.  There is no warranty or commitment that either this report or the Framework will be error-free, accurate, reliable or complete or that any errors will be corrected.  In no event will the University of Cambridge be responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this report or the Framework.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results so please be aware that results produced one day may not be the same as results produced based on the same data another day.  Nothing in this report or the Framework is intended to constitute professional advice.  Neither this report nor the Framework have been approved for use by any regulatory authority.  Use of this report and/or the Framework is done at your sole risk.

2. Limitation of Liability

2.1 While the results presented in this report are made available by the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (“CISL”) the University of Cambridge takes no responsibility or liability for the performance and/or use of the results.

2.2 The University of Cambridge (including CISL) (“the University”)  does not give any warranties or make any representations that this report or the Framework or any information or results contained in them or derived from them will be suitable for any purposes, nor does it accept any responsibility for any limitations or errors, or accept any liability for any loss or damage whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with the content and results contained in this report and/or the Framework, or in respect of any information, data or content obtained via except that which is unlawful to exclude. 

2.3 The University shall not be liable for any damages or expenses of whatsoever nature and howsoever arising (including without limitation in contract, tort, negligence or for breach of statutory duty or misrepresentation) even if foreseeable in connection with any right or licence granted or use of this Report and/or the Framework or otherwise in connection with any relationship established by them. 

2.4 Notwithstanding the above, these limitations and exclusions shall not apply in respect of, or be deemed to restrict or exclude any liability of the University for, claims for personal injury or death to the extent only that the same arises as a result of the negligence of the University or in respect of fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation or for any other liability that cannot be excluded by applicable law.  To the extent permitted by law, any condition or warranty which would otherwise be implied into this report and/or the Framework is expressly excluded.

Published: January 2019


Copyright © 2019 University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Some rights reserved.

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.

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