Sir Ronald Cohen: Victory is in sight!

“Victory is in sight!”

Sir Ronald Cohen, the chair of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG), gave an upbeat welcome to delegates at the 2021 online GSG Global Impact Summit on Wednesday 6 October. 

He said that the three days of the summit, taking place online on 6, 7 and 8 October, should be dedicated to helping accelerate the progress of what he terms the “impact revolution” – a transformation of the global economic system into a force for good.

Echoing many of the messages from his address to last year’s GSG Summit, Cohen today emphasised that global impact investments had reached $1tn during 2020, which he said was the impact investment “tipping point”.

By the end of 2020, impact investment was a mainstream subject of conversation

“By the end of 2020, impact investment was a mainstream subject of conversation, in investment, in business and within government,” he said. 

This year’s summit came at a “crucially important time”, he said, as the Covid-19 pandemic had made more people realise that things had to change.

“It’s shaken our habits and beliefs, it’s made us understand the solidarity that has to exist between all populations – those in richer countries and those in poorer countries, and within countries between the rich and the poor,” he said. “It has set the background for bold action.”

Governments needed to work with private investors to meet the challenges left in the wake of the pandemic as well as those brought by the climate crisis, he said.


A new future with new realities

Speaking shortly afterwards, Cliff Prior, CEO of the GSG, said the impact movement was envisaging “a new future with new realities”.

He said: “Impact has moved from its origins in dedicated impact pioneers doing highly valuable work in the toughest and most important areas, to impact investing at scale with asset managers creating intentional impact funds across the world.” 

Cliff Prior GSG summit 2021

Prior added that the GSG’s new strategy aimed to reach two-thirds of the global population with the growth of its national advisory boards – the headquarters of impact investment movement in each country – across the world. There are currently 33 member countries of the GSG plus the EU. 

Later during the first day’s presentations, Degan Ali, executive director of African humanitarian aid organisation Adeso, warned that colonial attitudes still dominated the flow of money. 

Degan Ali at the GSG Summit 2021

“The reality is that the power is all with the global north organisations, not the leaders who are working on the ground closest to the communities,” she said. 

“We need to expand our minds,” she said, urging investors to interrogate their work, be humble and prepare to be asked difficult questions.

“Innovation comes from the communities themselves,” she said.

The GSG Global Impact Summit 2021 runs online from 6 to 8 October 2021.


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