'We must fight for impact to reach presidents and prime ministers' – David Cameron

Impact is important – but not to global leaders such as US president Donald Trump, according to former UK prime minister David Cameron.

Cameron appeared in conversation with GSG chair Sir Ronald Cohen today at the GSG Summit. In 2013, while he was prime minister, Cameron launched the Social Investment Taskforce during the UK’s presidency of the G8. The taskforce was chaired by Sir Ronald and since then it has become the Global Steering Group on Impact Investment.

Discussing the development of impact investment, the two leaders agreed it had made major strides ahead – this year there would be $1tn in impact investments worldwide, said Sir Ronald. 

More businesses were also being forced to consider their impact on people and the planet, not just their profits.

Reminiscing about the origins of the impact investment movement, Cameron paid tribute to Sir Ronald’s key role. “You are the grandfather of the whole industry. I was one of the many midwives.”

You are the grandfather of the whole industry. I was one of the many midwives

Impact must reach presidents and prime ministers

But while they agreed that the issues caused by Covid would make the role of impact – in its wider sense – even more important in the future, Cameron said there was still a long way to go.

“It comes down to political leadership,” he said. Impact was vital, but of “second order” to world leaders who were currently preoccupied with issues such as Covid and China.

Impact shouldn’t be something that was only discussed behind the scenes, said Cameron. “You have got to raise it up to the next level.” It needed to reach prime ministers’ offices and presidential statements. 

“When that happens, you can give it impetus.”

I don’t think this is on Trump’s wavelength at all

Sir Ronald said: “After a great crisis like 1929, we get great turning points.” Citing the development of the welfare state and the New Deal, he asked Cameron whether the world could hope for a “new, new deal”.

“That is the great hope,” replied Cameron, “but we have got a fight on our hands.”

He added: “The pressure after times of difficulty is for politicians to look inwards and erect barriers and not think internationally about issues.” We mustn’t give up on issues such as climate change, he said, but “we have got to win some pretty chunky arguments”.

“I don’t think this is on Trump’s wavelength at all.”