Social Impact: new paradigms
If a child turned on the television and paid attention to what he heard on the news, what would he think of the place where he was born? A world in which the Antarctic ice is melting faster and faster and the Amazon forest is disintegrated by fires.
We live in the era of the Anthropocene, the era of human destruction of the planet, where man’s action has worn down the mountains, changed the waterways, extracted raw materials, building up to the impossible and consuming a naturally untouched territory which has almost lost its original appearance.
At the same time, however, with a little intuition and hope, we can make everyone understand that through important measures, and with the cohesive union of the great forces, we still still have time to change and improve the world and the way we all live. The process has already been implemented and has already proven that activism works and can lead to change.
In September 2015 more than 150 international leaders sat at a round table at the United Nations to decide what steps to take to contribute to global development, promote human well-being and protect the environment. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was approved by the state community, where 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals) were identified with 169 targets.
Fighting poverty, fighting against inequality and promoting social and economic development are the first objectives that the United Nations Global Compact and the States are committed to pursuing together with the promise to face climate change and build peaceful societies by the end of the year 2030. A system of 240 statistical indicators offers targets on the basis of which each individual country will be monitored as it approaches the Goals and therefore advances its social impact.
This also applies to each individual company: citizens, individuals, companies, institutions, states. They are all called to commitment. What is meant by “impact”? According to the OECD the impact is “the positive and negative, intended and unintended, direct and indirect, primary and secondary effects produced by intervention”.
We talk about the effect that each intervention generates, and therefore if we look at the social impact, we mean the social effect that every intervention generates on the community or on specific categories of beneficiaries. All countries must make a contribution to achieving the goals based on their capabilities within 15 years.
It is a matter of identifying a program and setting long-term goals and then making an assessment of the changes that can be attributed to a particular intervention (project, program, policy). This evaluation — called Impact Evaluation — does not simply examine the achievement of the objectives, but is structured to answer a very specific question: how would the results and the well-being of the participants have changed if the intervention had not been undertaken?
It is a counterfactual analysis, given by the comparison between what would have happened in the absence of the intervention and what actually happened, where the implications of one’s own activity and contribution is obtained by subtraction from what would happened.
Moreover, when we talk about interventions that a company can and must do, the trend that over the last few years has become increasingly important is the Impact Investing. These are investments made in companies, organizations and funds with the intention of generating a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact and a financial return.
This type of investment actively seeks to place capital in companies, non-profit organizations and funds, not only in the five sectors traditionally understood as welfare, education and training, health and wellbeing, the environment and sustainability, social policies, and personal and community services, but also in access to and services to culture.