Systems Change

Systems Change


Indranil Ghosh provides part one of a two-part series on efficacy and impact of ESG investing. This article pertains to the effects of the coronavirus on ESG investing.

Five years ago, many people dismissed environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing as a fad because it put purpose alongside profit. But today, ESG investing seems to have become mainstream as global flows into sustainable investing are worth upwards of $4 trillion annually. Furthermore, as the Covid-19 crisis mounted in Q1 2020, investors poured $45.6 billion into ESG funds while $384.7 billion flowed out of the overall fund universe.

According to the UN, the funding gap to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is at least $2.5-3 trillion annually in developing countries alone. We think it’s more like $5 trillion globally. Plugging this gap from the public purse would require a 20% increase in the global tax base, which stands at about $25 trillion today. Clearly, this is not feasible. However, steering a small portion of global private wealth, which stands at $200 trillion globally, into sustainable investments could address the world’s development challenges.


Key points in this article include:

  • The problems with ESG investing
  • The additive impact of ESG investing
  • ESG and systems change


Read the full article, Does Covid-19 Mark the End of ESG Investing, or A New Beginning?, on LinkedIn.



Odin Muhlenbein shares a report that is the collaborative effort of funders, intermediaries, and systems change leaders who have identified why current practices in the social sector funding community need to evolve to support systems change leaders. 

As we stand on the threshold of an epochal decade, we are confronted with an urgent need

to find, fund, and support transformative solutions at a far greater pace than ever. To that

end, Ashoka and McKinsey invited additional partners to join their annual collaboration to

co-create a shared perspective: Catalyst 2030, Co-Impact, Echoing Green, the Schwab

Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the Skoll Foundation, and SYSTEMIQ. Together, we

seek to reflect on the sector’s insights to the question: how do we get better at funding and

supporting systems change?


This report is the product of a collaboration between three groups that have mostly

addressed the topic individually: funders and intermediaries in the social sector and the

systems change leaders they aim to support. As a group of publishing partners, we are

united in the conviction that solving the most complex challenges humankind faces today

requires both a systems change approach and collaborative action by all stakeholders.

We further believe that many funders, including those contributing to this report, need to

evolve their funding practices to better support and accelerate the corresponding efforts of

practitioners in collective systems change efforts.


With this report, we aim to reach those in the funding community who want to evolve their

current model to invest in systems change approaches. The ideas we propose are not

absolute truths; rather, they are the first few steps in our own collective journey to learn

about and embrace funding practices that are aligned with systems change. They build on a

broad foundation of existing literature on the concept of systems change and how it can be

supported, as well as the lived experiences of more than 200 individuals who contributed to

this report.


Included in this report:


  • The case for funding systems change
  • Five principles for funding systems change
    • Embrace a systems mindset
    • Support evolving paths to systems change
    • Work in true partnership
    • Prepare for long-term engagement
    • Collaborate with other stakeholders


Download the full report, Embracing Complexity. Towards a Shared Understanding of Funding Systems Change, on the Ashoka website.