What is Impact Economics?

Impact economics measure company performance by placing a monetary value on the company’s most significant positive and negative impacts on society.

This involves quantifying externalities and leads to a comprehensive, widely accepted framework in which comparisons between companies and sectors are made accurately and consistently.

The final metric is expressed as a dollar value, making material comparisons across companies and sectors not only possible but scientifically rigorous and transparent.

Economic impact explained
  • Quantifying the social cost of carbon
  • Summing the increase in wage-earning power through staff training
  • Calculating the value derived from local ecosystems

How impact economics is different from traditional economics

Stakeholder capitalism

Responsible companies treat shareholders and stakeholders alike – ensuring employees, customers and investors are given an equal say.

Integrated accounting

Impacts must be accounted for in company decision-making – because what economists term externalities today are tomorrow’s risks and the day after’s costs.

Identification of hidden risks and opportunities

Quantifying the effects of a company’s operations on societal wellbeing helps to uncover hidden costs and benefits, and to understand how they arise.

Impacts are defined as changes in wellbeing – both positive and negative – as a result of a company’s activities.

Companies always measure impact on financial capital – but they don’t measure impacts across the remaining three capitals:


Why Impact Economics

Impact economics provides a holistic lens to help identify, measure and quantify hidden risks and opportunities when it comes to a company’s interactions with society and the environment (its so-called “externalities”).

By assigning a monetary value to these externalities, impact economics puts impact information on par with financial metrics – enabling leaders across the financial and corporate landscape to integrate sustainability into their overall strategy in clear, informed and actionable way.

Regulatory risk

Stricter environmental regulations
Carbon taxes, stringent discharge limits for effluents and air pollutants, etc.

Increased litigation costs
Higher damages for managing accidental spills and discharges

Operational risk

Increased compliance costs
E.g. installation of emission monitoring systems

Increased costs of raw materials
E.g. higher cost of water

Stranding of assets
As a result of protests and regulations

Market risk

Shift in customer preference
Consumers opting for environmentally friendly products

Changing incentives
E.g. subsidies for lower energy and resource intensive products
Banks and insurers charging a premium for unsustainable business practices

Reputational risk

Fall in share price
As a result of reduced investor confidence following controversies

Loss of sales
E.g. customer boycott as a result of campaigning efforts

Our clients are pioneering companies and investors who prioritise outcomes over intent

Cape CapitalupsPernod Ricardubs
MicrosoftSuzanoClarity AI
Yarra Valley Water

And we are partnered with the best to scale our impact

Clarity AINewsweek
International Chamber of Commerce
natural capital coalition
value balancing

How Impact Economics improves your business

Yarra Valley Water

Yarra Valley Water

The company has the goal of doubling social capital impact over five years but no means of measuring progress.


GIST Impact prepares a series of annual Integrated Profit & Loss (IP&L™) Reports and benchmarks, KPIs, data frameworks and toolkits to measure and demonstrate successful delivery of the goal across multiple programmes.


The company achieves its goal ahead of time and extends the programme through additional investments.



The company feared that its efforts to preserve nature were undervalued in a world focused on profit and loss.


GIST Impact measured the impact on environment and society of the company’s forestry operations and the offsetting benefits of preserving ecosystem services from owned forests.


The company produces an Integrated Profit and Loss Report (IP&L™) that more than justifies its forest management policies by proving its contribution to GDP is more than twice its reported profits, and its ecosystem services are worth approximately USD 730 million and growing.



The company must demonstrate to stakeholders the expected return on additional investment in skills training.


GIST Impact values the human capital creation and positive human capital externality resulting from existing investments.


The company justifies additional capital spending through a time series analysis, benchmarking to industry standards and a return-on-investment calculation.

The World’s largest pension investment fund

The pension fund is committed to reporting its impact using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but needs a quantitative rather than qualitative assessment.


GIST Impact’s valuations provided through a distribution partner enable the pension fund to evaluate companies from the perspective of alignment with UN SDGs.


The pension fund has the necessary financial scale to evaluate investments and move towards accurate SDG alignment at portfolio level.

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GIST Impact’s approach and methodology is highly trusted

The last few years have seen considerable harmonisation in the lexicon of measuring and quantifying impacts.

GIST Impact’s four capitals approach, definitions and methodology align with emerging industry standards, including the Capitals Coalition, the Value Balancing Alliance, and many others.

The quantified impacts measured across the four capitals can also be translated and redistributed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) via the GIST Impact SDG mapping methodology.

Aligned with global institutions

International Chamber of Commerce

Consistent with key industry alliances

Mappable to reporting frameworks & guidelines

Frequently asked questions

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