Qatar’s $100 billion sovereign wealth fund is reportedly considering impact investment – a strategy that balances social or environmental objectives with financial returns.
The investment arm of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Qatar Holdings, is thought to have invested around $30 billion during the course of 2012. Reports now suggest that a proportion of this will now be used to deliver social and environmental improvements as well as financial returns.
According to the Financial Times, someone familiar with QIA’s plans said, “They are trying to recast their image a bit.”
The source added that QIA have a specific team assessing opportunities within impact investment.
A separate source told the FT that Qatar Holdings have made an initial investment of around $400,000 in boosting the supply of agriculture goods in east Africa but did not disclose information around expected returns.
Impact investing intends to generate measurable social and environmental returns alongside financial ones. The number of funds engaged with impact investment has grown rapidly, and continues to do so.
JP Morgan’s annual survey on the impact investment market, published earlier this year, found that $8 billion was committed during 2012. This was expected to increase to $9 billion during 2013.
Additionally, the majority of those surveyed for the study said their impact investment portfolio performance was meeting or exceeding social, environmental and financial expectations.
As sustainable investment becomes more mainstream, sovereign wealth funds are facing additional pressures to also act sustainable and divest from unethical companies and activities. The Government Pension Fund of Norway, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, recently indicated it was considering boosting its sustainable investments.