IFC CEO’s Speech on Mobilizing Finance and Unlocking Private Sector Solutions

WBG/IMF Spring Meetings, Washington, D.C.

April 12, 2019

Welcome, everyone. For 62 years, IFC has been an impact investor—even before the term was even coined. It is in our DNA. For us, one bottom line has never been enough. We want at least two bottom lines—profit plus impact. In fact, I want even more emphasis on impact. My goal since I started at IFC three years ago has been to put development impact at the heart of IFC, and IFC at the heart of development finance.

Today is a big moment to turn this vision into more of a reality. Today is also a big moment for the growing field of impact investing.

With our partners—investment firms, other development finance institutions, academics, and civil society—we have together written the Operating Principles for Impact Management. Now is the time to turn these principles into something very concrete.

Today, I’d like to announce that 60 institutions who collectively manage over 350 billion dollars in impact assets have committed to follow the Operating Principles for Impact Management. Please join me to congratulate these founding institutions.

By officially adopting these principles, the founding institutions are endorsing a groundbreaking new set of standards that will bring much-needed discipline, transparency, and credibility to the market.

Their pledge will move impact investing further into the mainstream. It will give investors a better view into how their money is making a difference and it will help prevent the practice of “impact washing.” Investors sometimes wonder if their impact investment was actually living up to its name. Now they can be sure. The signatories today are pledging to publicly disclose each year how they are implementing these shared principles and commit to independent verification of their impact management systems.

Investors are craving this kind of discipline. The impact market grew fivefold between 2013 and 2017. Yet despite growing investor appetite, it is still relatively small. We believe that the untapped market for impact investing could be in the trillions.

Imagine what we could do if we mobilized new funds at that scale. We could make serious progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, which are estimated to need trillions of dollars a year, and confront the world’s greatest challenges—from poverty to climate change to fragility.

Investment can—and should—be a force for good, not simply for profit. It’s true: you can do good by doing well. Investors are increasingly demanding it. The world urgently needs it.

We’re here to thank our partners for taking the leap with us. We’ll be spending the rest of the day with them to talk about the next steps for implementing the principles. But for the next several minutes, each of the partners will join us to build the investment tree you see on stage. The tree symbolizes growth, strength, wisdom, and renewal—exactly what we hope our new principles bring to the impact investing market.

But this is just the beginning of the journey. We know there are many others now considering signing on later in the year. We count on this group of founding leaders to be ambassadors for the Principles, encouraging their peers across the industry to join in. The Secretariat will report annually on progress made. Let’s put more leaves on the tree. Thank you.