Social Taxonomies: The next frontier in classifying sustainable economic activities

December 1, 2021 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm CET

(Open to public)

Sustainable investing has experienced impressive growth in recent years. As the increasing number of green financing instruments demonstrates, issuers have often focused on addressing environmental objectives only, especially climate, while neglecting the social side of sustainability. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a notable impact on this paradigm, drawing the world’s attention to the importance of social objectives, such as access to health. Among other things, this has resulted in a sevenfold increase in social bond issuance, which reached USD 147.7 billion in 2020. 

The emergence of new socially aligned investment solutions raises the question of whether market participants have the means to assess social impact and determine which economic activities meet their social objectives. The EU has advanced its environmental taxonomy, but work required toward a social taxonomy has just begun. The panel will unpack the underlying challenges of social impact assessment and designing a social taxonomy. It will also discuss the often-overlooked questions regarding how economic activities translate to social goods. 

The controversies that have engulfed the EU environmental taxonomy demonstrate how difficult it can be for multiple stakeholders to agree on the impact of economic activities. Moving beyond the environmental taxonomy, IISD believes it is imperative to start the conversation on social impact measurement and social taxonomies, as these discussions will come with unique challenges.

Some of the objectives of this panel will include:

  • Exploring the unique challenges of assessing social impact.
  • Sharing ideas on how to avoid “social washing” and to increase the quality of social impact.
  • Discussing the challenges of setting up meaningful metrics on social impact.
  • Highlighting some of the leading social sustainability standards that investors can rely on.

As a partner of Building Bridges, we are proud to announce that the program for the 2021 edition, taking place in Geneva from November 29 to December 2, is now live. Building Bridges is a collaborative effort that aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable financial system. It is supported by a wide range of partners from the finance industry, the United Nations and other international organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, and local, cantonal, and national authorities.  


Registration is free but spaces are limited so we encourage you to register early.   

Register here and select the sessions you would like to attend at the Building Bridges Summit and Week, taking place in Geneva between the 29th of November & the 2nd of December, 2021. 


Maison de la paix - C1 - Chem. Eugène-Rigot 2, 1202 Genève - Switzerland