The G20 recognized impact investment. Here’s why that matters.

What does a global revolution look like?

Sometimes it’s tangible: protestors in the streets, impassioned speeches, or the literal tearing down of walls.

But more often than not, it’s the moment the “new normal” arrives: a subtle but nonetheless fundamental shift in our collective thinking in communities in all corners of the globe and among the decision-makers at the very top.

At this year’s G20, the impact revolution began to experience that shift.

Together with our global partners, the GSG advocated for impact investing to be recognized as key to a more just and prosperous future by the 20 most powerful nations in the world. The letter we co-signed with Sistema B, The B Team, and B Lab, with support from the WEAll Alliance, called specifically for a G20 working group that could propose net positive impact economic policies, mechanisms and a legal framework in all G20 countries for establishing benefit corporations (B Corps). In addition, this coalition called on convening leaders of global businesses, funds and NGOs to work with G20 governments on the longer-term transition to an impact economy.

We knew these goals were ambitious. We also knew that if we want positive impact on people and the planet to truly be the “new normal” — to take its rightful place alongside risk and return in all of our economic decisions — then investment in the impact economies of the future needed to be recognized as essential by our global leaders.

The G20 leaders have now signaled that the “new normal” is on the horizon . In their Leaders’ Declaration following the 2018 Summit, they articulated their commitment to the impact economies of the future: “We will endeavor to further create enabling conditions for resource mobilization from public, private and multilateral resources, including innovative financial mechanisms and partnerships, such as impact investment for inclusive and sustainable growth, in line with the G20 Call on Financing for Inclusive Business.”

This is the first time the G20 leaders have explicitly mentioned impact investment in their annual declarations. Because impact investment is now formally acknowledged as a tool for their mission to create “fair and sustainable development through an agenda that is people-centred, inclusive and forward-looking,” the G20 leaders have laid down a marker for countries to meet — as well as the opportunity for further commitments in the 2019 and 2020 G20 Summits.

How will those “enabling conditions” be created in the wake of this watershed announcement? At the GSG, we will look to the leadership of our National Advisory Boards (NABs) — currently active in 15 of the G20 countries — to accelerate this revolution. Though declarations from the highest level catalyze and legitimize our efforts, it is communities and the people in them who will truly drive this revolution.

Meg Massey is the Director of Communications for the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG).