Sustainable Investment Awards 2023

ESG research of the year, North America: ICE

The judging panel was impressed by ICE's "useful research" on The Link Between Access to US Municipal Debt and Socioeconomic Outcomes.

Published in January 2023, 12,600 school districts across the US were analysed using data from the US-based data and technology provider and publicly available sources, as well as a review of academic literature.

Phoebe DevriesKey findings of the report by the US-based data and technology provider, study include:

  • Investors may be able to affect socioeconomic outcomes, particularly for children, by allocating more capital to communities with higher Social Impact Scores.
  • Policymakers could consider school district credit enhancement programs correlating with increased access to debt capital.
  • Regulators and policymakers could bolster Federal programs in High Social Impact communities to enhance access to low interest municipal capital.

The research was led by Phoebe Devries, senior science writer, ICE, who commented: "The municipal bond market is uniquely positioned for impact investing and can play an important role in helping disadvantaged municipalities raise funds for capital investments in their communities, which can include school districts, parks, and medical facilities."

The ICE Social Impact Score was designed to indicate the potential benefit of an investment in a given community, municipality, or any geographically-defined area.

The score is based on data from the US Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and condenses and synthesises that raw data into an easy-to-interpret score between 0-100. Higher scores indicate that a financial investment in a specific community is expected to have a larger potential social impact than an investment in a community with a lower score.

"By leveraging tools like this, as well as others that we offer in our suite of sustainable finance data and analytics, we're helping fund managers and investors identify impact investments that can help fund communities and businesses around the world," Devries added.

The research was authored by Devries, Evan Kodra, senior director, climate and ESG, ICE, and Carling Hay, director, climate and social impact analytics, ICE.