Amundi and Umweltbundesamt hosted a forum focusing on Impact Investment in Austria on Thursday, featuring imfino and Impact Hub as examples of initiatives that are supporting this growing form of investment in Austria. The event is a further indication that Austria wants to position itself as a leader in sustainable finance.
Werner Kretschmer (Country Head, Amundi Austria) and Georg Rebernig (CEO, Umweltbundesamt) kicked off the event by welcoming attendees to the forum in the centre of Vienna, and set the scene for the afternoon's various presentations and discussions. Dr Kretschmer explained his view that the impact investment market is currently "where the green investment market was 20 years ago", while Mr Rebernig emphasised the key role of private sector investment in financing the transition of Austria into a more sustainable economy.
Amundi naturally made a strong showing that afternoon, starting with Senior Economist Alessia Berardi's presentation on the macro economic outlook on impact investing, followed by a thorough explanation of Amundi's approach to ESG and impact investing from its Deputy Head of SRI Research Lai Ly. She stressed in particular the central role of a strong ESG analysis in a successful impact investing management process. ESG analysis helps select relevant and measurable Impact indicators - according to Ms. Lai, the key to efficient impact investing: “What gets measured gets managed," was her conclusion.
This point was subsequently taken up by Klara Kaminski of Umweltbundesamt, who described the Austrian market for impact investing as still so far lacking the necessary standardized criteria for impact measurement, as well as a matching platform for projects and investors. However, the expectation is that this situation will change as imfino and Impact Hub, the two top impact investing initiatives in the country, will continue to grow and gain in importance. Ms. Kaminski referred in this context specifically to imfino's in-development SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) measurement tool and its online marketplace for SDG-focused investments.
UNIDO's representative Marko van Waveren Hogervorst introduced two of the organization's best practice programs, the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP), and the Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN). GCIP was established with the intention of developing an entrepreneurship ecosystem around the world at a local, city, state and regional level that will help promote emerging cleantech start-ups in each country. PFAN is an investment-ready pipeline for multilateral and private sector investors which advises low-carbon, climate resilient businesses in developing countries, and matches projects to appropriate private financing. Mr. van Waveren Hogervorst pointed to the growing convergence of development and private sector finance, making the point that public and private sector are both equally necessary to guarantee successful impact investing.
Valuable contributions were also made by Amundi portfolio managers, who illustrated their company's approach to impact investing measurement with best practice examples from France, as well as by Dr. Michael Fembek, who presented impact investing from the viewpoint of non-profit foundations, also by giving examples of two such foundations where he was co-initiator.
Last but not least, keynote speaker David de Rothschild, himself a committed environmentalist and head of the Sculpt the Future Foundation, a charity that supports innovations and creativity in social and environmental impact efforts, drew the audience in with a strong call-to-action.