Glossary

A comprehensive impact measurement & management glossary defining technical terms and core concepts used throughout IRIS+.

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A

Active Clients

Individuals, groups, or organizations that are active users of the organization's services. For example, active financial services clients may include those with active credit or savings accounts (excluding remittances or other financial transactions) or clients who have had transactions with microfinance institutions (MFI) during the reporting period. The definition of active may vary by product. For example, for traditional services, “active” typically includes all individuals who have accounts registered in their names for at least six months and who have used their accounts to make transactions within the prior six months. For digital services, “active” typically includes individuals who have had accounts registered in their names for at least three months and who have used their accounts to make transactions within the prior three months.

Sources: CGAP’s Number of Active Clients definition and the GIIN's Navigating Impact project.

Affordable Housing

Housing for which the associated financial costs are at a level that does not threaten or compromise the occupants' enjoyment of other human rights and basic needs and that represents a reasonable proportion of an individual's overall income.

Source: Adapted from the United Nations Human Rights Commission

Agricultural Finance

Provision of financial services that support all agriculture-related activities, including those of processors, distributors, and exporters who may be located in rural, urban or peri-urban areas.

Source: ILO, Empowering rural communities through financial inclusion

Agricultural Land

Agricultural Land may be defined broadly as land used primarily for production of food and fiber. Agricultural land subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include cropland and pasture; orchards, groves, vineyards, nurseries, and ornamental horticultural areas; confined feeding operations; and other agricultural land.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Asset

A resource controlled by an entity as a result of past events; and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity.

Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value is considered an asset. Simply stated, assets represent ownership of value that can be converted into cash (although cash itself is also considered an asset).

Source: International Financial Reporting Standards

B

Barren Land

Barren land is land of limited ability to support life and in which less than one-third of the area has vegetation or other cover. In general, it is an area of thin soil, sand, or rocks. Vegetation, if present, is more widely spaced and scrubby than that in the Shrub and Brush category of Rangeland. Unusual conditions, such as a heavy rainfall, occasionally result in growth of a short-lived, more luxuriant plant cover. Wet, nonvegetated barren lands are included in the Nonforested Wetland category.

Barren land subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include: dry salt flats, beaches, and sandy areas other than beaches; bare exposed rock; strip mines, quarries, and gravel pits; transitional areas; and mixed barren land.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Benefit Corporation

Benefit Corporations are a new class of corporation that 1) creates a material positive impact on society and the environment; 2) expands fiduciary duty to require consideration of non-financial interests when making decisions; and 3) reports on its overall social and environmental performance using recognized third-party standards.

Source: Benefit Corp Information Center

Bias

Prejudice, preference, predisposition or inclination towards or against one thing, person or group relative to others, often based on prevailing stereotypes.

Source: Criterion Institute

Biodegradable

Capable of decomposing under natural conditions.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Board of Directors

A group of people legally responsible to govern an organization and responsible to the shareholders and other relevant stakeholders. A governing body with a different name (e.g., "advisory body") may be considered a Board of Directors provided it has a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders and/or other relevant stakeholders.

Building Reuse

Renovation/remodeling of old buildings. Some guidelines specify that to be considered building reuse, the building(s) must have been initially constructed (and completed) at least 40 years ago. The purpose of building reuse can vary, such as saving natural resources (including raw material, energy, and water required to build new buildings), preventing pollution (byproducts of extraction, manufacturing and transportation of virgin materials), avoiding solid waste creation, etc.

Source: Adapted from Triple Bottom Line Collaborative and the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Business to Business (B2B)

Organization operates by selling its goods or services to other businesses, formally or informally.

Business to Consumer (B2C)

Organization operates by selling its goods or services to the end consumer (individuals, households, communities, etc.).

Business to Government (B2G)

Organization operates by selling/providing its goods or services to government agencies.

C

Carbon Credits

A carbon credit, or a carbon offset, is a financial unit of measurement that represents the removal of one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) from the atmosphere. Carbon credits, also known as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), enable businesses to compensate for their emissions, meet their carbon reduction goals, and support the move to a low carbon economy. Carbon offsetting markets were created as a mechanism to achieve the targets set within the Kyoto Protocol, adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Carbon offsetting delivers financing to essential renewable energy, forestry, and resource conservation projects which generate reductions in Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions. Projects can be validated and verified to demonstrate that they are generating GHG reductions and can be monitored on a regular basis through independent third parties.

Organizations can refer to the following resources for additional guidance on carbon offsets:

Caregiver Professionals

Caregiver health professionals -- a subgroup of caregivers -- provide preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and promotional health services based on an extensive body of theoretical and factual knowledge in diagnosis and treatment of disease and other health problems. They may conduct research on human disorders/illnesses and ways of treating them, as well as supervise other workers.

Caregiver professionals are distinct from the larger group of caregivers in that their knowledge and skills are the result of study at a higher educational institution in a health-related field for a period of 3-6 years leading to the award of a first degree or higher qualification. This includes general and specialist medical practitioners, nurses, dentists, paramedics, etc.

Sources: Adapted from the World Health Organization and the International Labor Office's International Standard Classification of Occupations

Caregivers

Individuals who provide preventative, curative, rehabilitative, and promotional health services. A caregiver could be a doctor, nurse, clinician, community health worker, etc.

Cash Equivalents

Cash equivalents are short-term, highly-liquid investments that are readily convertible to known amounts of cash and are not subject to significant risk of changes in value.

Source: International Financial Reporting Standards

Catastrophic Health Expenditure

Catastrophic health expenditure is defined as out-of-pocket spending for health care that exceeds a certain proportion of a household’s income with the consequence that households suffer the burden of disease and may be pushed into poverty as a result. Examples: unexpected injuries, serious illnesses, etc.

Source: World Health Organization

Certification

A certification must be from a third party, be standards-based, have those standards be transparent, and have an assurance process. The process of certification is carried out by a recognized body, independent from interested parties, which demonstrates that a product or organization complies with the requirements defined in the standards or technical specifications.

Certified

Receiving certification from a recognized body that is independent from interested parties and can demonstrate that the organization complies with the requirements defined in the standards or technical specifications.

Children and Adolescents

Persons under the age of 19, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). For specific details, the WHO defines infants as birth to 1 year, children as 1 to 10 years, and adolescents as 10 to 19 years.

Source: World Health Organization

Client

Buyer or recipient of the organization's products or services. For the impact theme Access to Quality Healthcare, “client” is analogous to “patient,” and for the impact theme Affordable Housing, “client” is analogous to “resident” or “tenant.”

Client Protection

Client protection can be a relevant concept in a number of sectors. Specifically for the microfinance sector, the definition is linked to The Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance, which seeks to unite microfinance providers worldwide to develop and implement standards for the appropriate treatment of low-income clients based on the following seven principles: 1) Appropriate Product Design and Delivery 2) Prevention of Over-Indebtedness 3) Transparency 4) Responsible Pricing 5) Fair and Respectful Treatment of Clients 6) Privacy of Client Data 7) Mechanisms for Complaint Resolution

Organizations can refer to the Smart Campaign for further information about the client protection initiative.

Code of Ethics

Sometimes called a Code of Conduct or Code of Business Standards. This is a formal document that establishes behavioral expectations for the organization and the people who work there.

Community Service Policy

A policy that encourages and allows employees to volunteer or engage in charitable giving.

Conflict of Interest

A set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.

Source: Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice, Lo and Field, 2009.

Contract

A contract is an agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit, such as payment. The existence of a contract requires that there be a proposed and accepted offer, a promise to perform by one entity as well as a promise to provide a valuable benefit by the other (payment), and a time or event by which performance must occur.

Cooperative (Co-op)

An autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

Source: International Labor Organization, and search for "cooperative"

Core Metrics Set

IRIS+ Core Metrics Sets are short lists of key indicators—built on standard IRIS metrics and backed by evidence and best practice—that impact investors can use to assess the effects of their investments.

Corporate Governance

Corporate governance is the system by which business corporations are directed and controlled. The corporate governance structure specifies the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation (such as the boards, managers, shareholders, and other stakeholders) and spells out the rules and procedures for making decisions on corporate affairs. By doing this, it also provides the structure through which the company objectives are set, as well as a means of attaining those objectives and monitoring performance.

Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Corporation

An organization where shareholders maintain ownership and which is managed by a Board.

Critical Equipment

Critical equipment or facilities are those fixed assets necessary for the organization to provide its products and services in the sense that they are materially necessary. Materially necessary means that if the equipment were destroyed, degraded, or compromised, it would make it difficult or impossible for the organization to provide its services/products. It is also typically equipment that has a maximum utilization that is a limiting factor on the units produced or services provided. For example, a hospital might cite patient beds, an MRI machine, or sterile surgical rooms as critical equipment/facilities.

Cultural Values/Services

Cultural Values/Services are the nonmaterial benefits obtained from ecosystems.

  • Recreation and ecotourism: Recreational pleasure people derive from natural or cultivated ecosystems
  • Ethical and spiritual values: Spiritual, religious, aesthetic, intrinsic, "existence,” or similar values people attach to ecosystems, landscapes, or species
  • Educational and inspirational values: Information derived from ecosystems used for intellectual development, culture, art, design, and innovation

Source: WRI

D

Deforested

The destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other, non-forest uses. Organizations can refer to the following sources for further information on deforestation:

Depreciation and Amortization

Depreciation and Amortization is the systematic allocation of depreciable assets, tangible (depreciation) and intangible (amortization), over the assets' useful lives.

Source: Adapted from International Financial Reporting Standards

Direct Emissions

Emissions of greenhouse gases that are from sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting organization.

Source: GHG Protocol

Directly Controlled (land area)

Land area under the organization's direct control is land for which the organization completely controls land use through direct operation or management. This includes situations where the organization's employees cultivate the land directly.

Note that land ownership is not always equivalent to control. For example, in situations where land is leased to another entity or individual to cultivate, land is only directly controlled if the lease is accompanied by exhaustive land use criteria. If this land use criteria still allows the organization to have financial control and management over the land, the land is still considered to be directly controlled by the organization.

Disabilities

A person with a disability is defined as someone who has, or considers themselves to have, a long-term or recurring issue that impacts one or more activities that others may consider to be a daily function. This definition also includes the perception among others that a disability exists.

Source: Lime Connect

Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY)

A measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. It was developed in the 1990s as a way of comparing the overall health and life expectancy of different countries.

Source: World Health Organization

Distributors

An individual or organization that sells products or services to other distributors (wholesale) or to the ultimate consumer (retail).

Donation (Charitable)

Charitable donations include financial contributions and in-kind donations of goods and services to charities, private foundations, non-profit organizations, or non-governmental organizations. Pricing discounts do not count as charitable donations; only free services are considered to be in-kind donations.

Drop out (Student)

A student who, for any reason other than death, leaves school before graduation without transferring to another school/institution.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

E

Earned Premium

The value of the portion of a policy's premium that applies to the expired portion of the policy. Although insurance premiums are often paid in advance, insurers typically earn the premium at an even rate throughout the policy term. The remainder is the unearned premium.

Source: International Risk Management Institute

Ecological Restoration

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. An ecosystem has recovered - and is restored - when it contains sufficient biotic and abiotic resources to continue its development without further assistance or subsidy. It will sustain itself structurally and functionally. It will demonstrate resilience to normal ranges of environmental stress and disturbance. It will interact with contiguous ecosystems in terms of biotic and abiotic flows and cultural interactions.

For example, if the objective is to establish tree cover with a designated species composition and species abundance on former cropland, one intervention could be to plant sapling trees of the designated species at specified densities. Refer to Society for Ecological Restoration Guidelines for Developing and Managing Ecological Restoration Projects for additional background information.

Source: Society for Ecological Restoration

Ecosystem Services

The benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as regulation of floods, drought, land degradation, and disease; supporting services such as soil formation and nutrient cycling; and cultural services such as recreational, spiritual, religious, and other non-material benefits.

Provisioning services are goods provided by ecosystems and include crops, timber, and livestock as well as genetic resources for medicines. Regulating services maintain healthy ecosystem functioning and include water purification, pollination, water regulation, and climate regulation. Cultural services are intangible and non-material value people derive from nature and include spiritual and aesthetic benefits as well as recreation and tourism. Supporting services are the natural processes that maintain the three other ecosystem services.

Organizations can refer to the following sources for additional information on ecosystem services:

Employee Tenure

Employee tenure is a measure of how long salaried and non-salaried workers have been with their current employer at the time of measurement.

Source: Adapted from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment (Cross-Cutting Impact Category included under Investment Lens)

Themes in Employment include strategic goals and delivery models that seek to provide opportunities for all people of working age to engage in activities to produce goods or provide services in exchange for a fair income, provided together with equality of treatment for all, secure work conditions, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom to express concerns and to participate in the decisions that affect their lives

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy (adapted from ILO's definition of decent work)

Endangered or Vulnerable Species

All species with the status of "Near Threatened," "Vulnerable," "Endangered," or "Critically Endangered" on the Red List of Threatened Species prepared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Source: IUCN

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce the total amount of energy needed to carry out current processes or tasks. The term does not include overall reduction in energy consumption from reduced organizational activities (e.g., partial outsourcing of production).

Source: Global Reporting Initiative

Environmental Management System

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. An EMS helps a company address its regulatory demands in a systematic and cost-effective manner. It can also help address non-regulated issues such as energy conservation and can promote stronger operational control and employee stewardship.

Source: Adapted from the EPA

F

Fair Dismissal

Reasons for dismissal which shall be not be considered valid include those based on union membership or participation in union activities, filing of a complaint against an employer, race, color, sex, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, temporary absence due to illness, or absence from work during maternity leave.

Source: International Labor Organization

Feedback System (Publicly-known)

A publicly-known feedback system that clients or employees can use to provide feedback, ask questions, and file complaints that is broadly recognized and promoted by the company and that most/all clients/employees are aware of. A publicly-known system does not include a company that accepts feedback through informal systems (such as occasional phone calls from customers or reliance on self-volunteerism from employees).

Financial Inclusion

Financial inclusion means that formal financial services are readily available to consumers and that they are actively and effectively using these services to meet their specific needs.

Source: Social Performance Task Force

Financial Services Delivery Methodology
  1. Individual loans: A loan made to an individual borrower who is solely responsible for its repayment. While a guarantor or physical collateral may exist, the individual bears the primary responsibility for the loan.
  2. Solidarity group: A loan group made up of approximately 3-10 people drawn from the same community and where group members collectively guarantee loan repayment; social collateral oftentimes replaces physical collateral.
  3. Village banking: As in solidarity groups, loan repayment is guaranteed by collective membership, but loan groups are bigger and made up of approximately 20-30 people (typically women).
  4. Digital financial services
  5. Agency banking
  6. Licensed agents working on behalf of the FSP
  7. Roving staff/mobile branches
  8. ATMs
  9. Mobile banking
  10. Internet-based services
  11. Merchant POS or a networked merchant
  12. Other

Organizations can refer to the following sources for additional clarification on the definition:

Financial Shock

An unexpected or unpredictable event, like job loss, illness, injury, death, or large-scale unexpected expense.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

Forest Land

Forest lands have a tree-crown areal density (crown closure percentage) of 10 percent or more, are stocked with trees capable of producing timber or other wood products, and exert an influence on the climate or water regime. Lands from which trees have been removed to less than 10 percent crown closure but which have not been developed for other uses also are included; for example, lands on which there are rotation cycles of clear cutting and block planting are part of Forest Land. Note: The technical defintion of "forest land" may vary by country.

Lands that meet the requirements for Forest Land and also for an Urban or Built-up category should be placed in the latter category. The only exceptions in classifying forest land are those areas which would otherwise be classified as Wetland if not for the forest cover. Since the wet condition is of much interest to land managers and planning groups and is so important as an environmental surrogate and control, such lands are classified as Forested Wetland.

Forest Land subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include: Deciduous, Evergreen, and Mixed.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Forest Management Plan

A forest management plan is the application of appropriate technical forestry principles, practices, and business techniques to the management of a forest to achieve the landowner's objectives.

Freedom of Association

Allowing workers to form and join trade unions, worker associations, and worker councils or committees of their own choosing.

Sources:

Freshwater (Bodies)

Non-saline bodies of water located within terrestrial environments and unconnected to any tidal or estuarine water bodies. Excludes ephemeral bodies of freshwater, which are rain dependent and flow only after precipitation.

Source: Adapted from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, search "Fresh water"

Full-time Employee

Full-time paid employees work year round and typically work 35-50 hours per week. If local definitions of full-time equivalency differ, use the appropriate standard.

Full-time Equivalent

A full-time equivalent (FTE) job is the equivalent of one person working full time as defined by local laws. FTEs is equal to the number of full-time employees plus the number of employees on part-time schedules converted to a full-time basis. In most instances this should include seasonal, contractual, part-time, and full-time employees hired directly by the financed enterprise or through third-party agencies.

Source: Adapted from the United States Small Business Association

G

Gender

Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught appropriate norms and behaviors – including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and work places. When individuals or groups do not “fit” established gender norms they often face stigma, discriminatory practices or social exclusion – all of which adversely affect health. It is important to be sensitive to different identities that do not necessarily fit into binary male or female sex categories.

Source: World Health Organization

Gender and Sexual Minorities (GSM)

People whose gender, sexual orientation, or biological sex characteristics differ from what is typically expected by a particular culture or society. This term includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals, as well as others. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ).

Source: Health Policy Plus

Gender Equality

Refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male, female, or another gender. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of all genders are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between genders is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development.

Source: UN Women

Gender Equity

The process of being fair to people of all genders. To ensure fairness, measures must often be put in place to compensate for the historical and social disadvantages that prevent people of different genders from operating on a level playing field. Equity is a means. Equality is the result.

Source: Adapted from UNESCO

Gender Identity and Expression

Gender identity refers to one's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend, or neither. It is how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. Gender identity can be the same or different than biological sex or the sex assigned at birth.

Gender expression is the external appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, communication patterns, and interests, and which may or may not conform to socially-defined behaviors and characteristics consistent with socially-prescribed gender roles.

Source: Adapted from the Human Rights Campaign

Gender Lens

A rigorous discipline having the goal of seeing and understanding how privilege and bias operate in a specific context, ideally with attention to how power might be disrupted.

The approach analyses the relationship between:

  • different gendered groups in society,
  • their access to resources and opportunities, and
  • the constraints they face relative to each other.

Approached with a view to intersectionality, a gender helps in understanding the different patterns of involvement, behavior, and activities that different groups have in economic, social, and legal structures.

Source: Criterion Institute

Gender Norms

Often framed around the gender binary (male-female), gender norms are what society considers “normal” or acceptable behavior, dress, appearance and roles for women and men. Gender norms can contribute to power imbalances and gender inequality in the home, workplace, markets and society as a whole.

Source: Criterion Institute

Green Building

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Greenhouse gases (sometimes abbreviated GHG) are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The most common gases include carbon dioxide, NOx, SOx, methane, etc.

Organizations can refer to the following sources for further guidance:

Groundwater

Water below the surface of the Earth, where it occupies spaces in soils or geologic strata. Most groundwater comes from precipitation, which gradually percolates into the Earth, often via aquifers.

Source: The Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard

H

Hazardous Waste

Refuse that could present dangers through the contamination and pollution of the environment. It requires special disposal techniques to make it harmless or less dangerous. A list of specific hazardous waste categories to be controlled can be found in Annex I to the Basel Convention.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme

High Conservation Value Forest

Areas with environmental and social values that are considered to be of outstanding or exceptional importance. A High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) can be a small part of a larger forest, such as an archeological site, or can be an entire forest unit, as is sometimes the case when the forest is habitat for a threatened or endangered species.

Source: Rainforest Alliance

High or Extremely High Baseline Water Stress

The baseline water stress is a ratio of the total water withdrawal to the freshwater availability in a specific water source. High water stress is defined as a ratio of 40-80% and extremely high is defined as a ratio of greater than 80%. High levels of baseline water stress indicate that demand for freshwater approaches or exceeds the renewable surface freshwater supply, which may lead to greater socio-economic competition for freshwater and a higher risk of supply disruptions.

Source: World Resource Institute

Housing Insecurity

Limited or uncertain availability of stable, safe, adequate, and affordable housing and neighborhoods; limited or uncertain access to stable, safe, adequate, and affordable housing and neighborhoods; or the inability to acquire stable, safe, adequate, and affordable housing and neighborhoods in socially acceptable ways.

Source: Equitable Growth

Housing Unit

A housing unit is a separate and independent place of abode intended for habitation by a single household. This category includes housing of various levels of permanency and acceptability and therefore requires further classification in order to provide for a meaningful assessment of housing conditions.

Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Human Resources Policy

A policy, set by an organization, that codifies decisions to support personnel functions, performance management, employee relations, and resource planning. Areas of a human resources policy might include: wages/salary scales, benefits, and working conditions (including rights concerning overtime pay, safety at work, non-discrimination, freedom of association, grievance resolution, whistleblower policy, anti-harassment safeguards, disciplinary procedures and possible sanctions, provision of any collective bargaining agreements, exit formalities, etc.).

Organizations can refer to the following source for additional information on human resources policies: The Social Performance Task Force's Universal Standards for Social Performance Management, Standard 5A

I

Impact Category

The Impact Categories within the IRIS+ system are aligned with the industry classes standardized by The International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) and based on the input received hundreds of stakeholders involved in the development of IRIS+.

The Impact Categories included in IRIS+ are as follows:

Agriculture Air Biodiversity & Ecosystems Climate Diversity and Inclusion Education Employment Energy Financial Services Health Land Oceans and Coastal Zones Pollution Real Estate Waste Water

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Agriculture

Themes in Agriculture include strategic objectives and delivery models that aim to provide individuals and enterprises with consistent access to the materials, knowledge, market connections, and other supports needed to prepare for, adapt to, and recover from challenges that arise from dependence on land for subsistence, nutrition, and profit. Themes in Agriculture also include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to minimize over-consumption of land-based raw materials by conserving natural resources, ensure that consumptive and non-consumptive uses are restorative, do not impair the long-term sustainability of that use by negatively affecting the ecosystem, ecosystem services, and species on which the use depends and the sharing of benefits arising out of these activities equitably.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Air

Themes in Air include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to address air quality issues by addressing stratospheric ozone depletion, reducing toxic emissions such as NOx and SOx, mitigating their environmentally harmful by-products to protect the environment and human health, and sharing the benefits of these activities equitably.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Biodiversity & Ecosystems

Themes in Biodiversity & Ecosystems include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to minimize threats to biodiversity by safeguarding, conserving, maintaining, restoring and/or improving the diversity of plants, animals, and ecosystems and their natural habitats and sharing the benefits arising out of these activities equitably.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Climate

Themes in Climate include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to limit the magnitude of climate change effects on the planet through activities that mitigate the results of human (anthropogenic) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), reduce the vulnerability of social and biological systems to sudden changes in the climate and thus offset the effects of global warming. Themes in Climate may also include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to improve people’s and the planet’s ability to maintain function in the face of external stresses imposed upon it by climate change and/or adapt systems leaving them better prepared for future climate change impacts and the sharing of benefits arising out of these activities equitably.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Diversity and Inclusion (Cross-Cutting Impact Category included under Investment Lens)

Themes in Diversity and Inclusion include strategic goals and delivery models that seek to provide individuals of different race, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious, ethical and political beliefs, social class, physical ability or attributes, with equal opportunities for inclusion and empowerment. IRIS+ recognizes that Diversity and Inclusion is not specific to a single impact category but rather represents cross-cutting topics that apply throughout impact categories and themes.

Impact Category: Education

Themes in Education include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to provide inclusive and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all students.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Energy

Themes in Energy include strategic objectives and delivery models that that seek to reduce GHG emissions, the consumption of fossil fuels, and/or minimize over-consumption of energy or fuel resources by conserving them and the sharing of benefits arising out of these activities equitably. Themes in Energy also include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to provide all individuals with availability of and consistent access to sufficient, safe, and reliable energy that meets basic needs and preferences.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Financial Services

Themes in Financial Services include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to provide all individuals and businesses with access to and usage of useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way. Themes in Financial Inclusion also include strategic objectives and deliver models related to SME finance and inclusive digital finance.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy (adapted from CGAP)

Impact Category: Health

Themes in Health include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to provide inclusive and quality health services, medicines, vaccines, technologies, and financing to ensure health and well-being for all. Themes in Health also include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek provide nutrition for all.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Land

Themes in Land include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to minimize over-consumption of land-based raw materials by conserving natural resources, ensuring that consumptive and non-consumptive uses are restorative, do not impair the long-term sustainability of that use by negatively affecting the ecosystem, ecosystem services, and species on which the use depends and the sharing of benefits arising out of these activities equitably. Themes in Land deliberately exclude marine-based resources, water quality and quantity themes, as well as biodiversity conservation as they are covered more explicitly in other impact categories.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Oceans and Coastal Zones

Themes in Oceans and Coastal Zones include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to seek to minimize over-consumption of marine resources, ensure that consumptive and non-consumptive uses are restorative, do not impair the long-term sustainability of that use by negatively affecting the ecosystem, ecosystem services, and species on which the use depends, and the sharing of benefits arising out of these activities equitably. Themes in Oceans and Coastal Zones deliberately exclude land-based resources, water quality and quantity themes, as well as biodiversity conservation as they are covered more explicitly in other impact categories.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Pollution

Themes in Pollution include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to minimize or mitigate the effects of air- or land-based pollution through appropriate technologies, equipment, materials, treatment, and processes, and the sharing of benefits arising out of these activities equitably. Themes in this category deliberately exclude strategic objectives that focus on water quantity and quality, air quality, climate, and waste as those are covered more explicitly in other impact categories.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Real Estate

Themes in Real Estate include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to provide housing projects, services, and infrastructure for which the associated financial costs are at a level that do not threaten or compromise the occupants’ enjoyment of other human rights and basic needs and that represents a reasonable proportion of an individual's overall income. Themes in Real Estate also include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to develop or rehabilitate buildings in a way that minimizes or reduces negative environmental impacts and the sharing of benefits arising out of these activities equitably.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Waste

Themes in Waste include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to actively manage solid, landfill, and hazardous waste by encouraging sustainable consumption and off-loading, and redesigning processes, products, infrastructures, and equipment to produce less waste and share equitably the benefits arising out of these activities and the systems developed to manage them. Themes in this category explicitly address issues of over-consumption as well as waste generating by-products through process modifications. Waste management in this context refers to reducing, reusing, recycling or improvements to the transport, treatment, and disposal of waste.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Category: Water

Themes in Water include strategic objectives and delivery models that seek to address issues of water quality and quantity for people and ecosystems, and the equitable sharing of water resources. The sustainable management of water resources in this context refers to water taken from or discharged to fresh and saline water bodies -- including but not limited to wetlands, seas, lakes, rivers, groundwater, swamps, and mangroves -- and addresses issues including contamination, water pollution, and global water supply. Themes in Water also seek to provide individuals with consistent and reliable, affordable access to clean and safe water, safely managed sanitation, and knowledge of basic safe hygiene practices without compromising the quality and sustainable quantity of water resources.

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Impact Themes

The IRIS+ system uses impact themes to classify the types of strategic objectives or approaches investors or enterprises employ to achieve the primary social and/or environmental effect they intend to deliver. Each thematic category is designed to aid in describing a purpose-driven approach to contribute to impact within a broader impact category. Each theme is based on macroeconomic topics and/or trends that an investor can use to identify and assess strong investment opportunities or that an enterprise can use to frame and communicate its work. Under the IRIS+ taxonomy, impact themes have been classified within the list of industries noted above.

Impact themes included in IRIS+ include:

  • Access to Quality Education
  • Access to Quality Health Care
  • Affordable Quality Housing
  • Biodiversity & Ecosystem Conservation
  • Clean Air
  • Clean Energy
  • Climate Mitigation
  • Climate Resilience and Adaptation
  • Energy Access
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Food Security
  • Green buildings
  • Land Conservation
  • Land Restoration
  • Marine Resources Conservation & Management
  • Natural Resources Conservation
  • Nutrition
  • Pollution Prevention
  • Smallholder Agriculture
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Sustainable Land Management Sustainable Forestry
  • Sustainable Water Resources Management
  • Waste Management
  • Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)

Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Independent Board Member

Independent Board Members are defined as individuals who are not an employee of the company, not a material investor/owner (owning less than 5%), and not a spouse or family member of a material owner.

Indirect Emissions

Emissions of greenhouse gases that result from the activities of the reporting organization but are generated at sources owned or controlled by another organization. In the context of this metric, indirect emissions refer to GHG emissions from the generation of electricity, heat, or steam that is imported and consumed by the reporting organization.

Source: GHG Protocol

Indirectly Controlled (land area)

Indirect control refers to land that the organization supports or influences but does not directly cultivate or manage.

Examples in which the organization indirectly controls land may include purchase contracts or sourcing from farmer cooperatives.

Individual Lending

A loan made to an individual borrower who is solely responsible for its repayment.

Source: Adapted from the Microfinance Information Exchange

Informal Sector

The informal sector is broadly characterized as consisting of units engaged in the production of goods or services with the primary objective of generating employment and incomes to the persons concerned.

These units typically operate at a low level of organization, with little or no division between labor and capital as factors of production and on a small scale. Labor relations - where they exist - are based mostly on casual employment, kinship or personal and social relations rather than contractual arrangements with formal guarantees.

Source: OECD

Insurance Premium

The amount of money an insurer charges to provide the coverage described in the policy or bond. Insurance premiums may vary due to factors (e.g., geography or policy length).

Source: International Risk Management Institute

Intersectionality

A framework for understanding and identifying interconnected forms of oppression and disadvantage based on social categorization (i.e. gender, race, class, religion, physical or mental ability). When two or more oppressions overlap in the experiences of an individual or group (such as gender and race), this can create interconnected barriers and complex forms of discrimination that can be insidious, covert and compounded.

Source: Criterion Institute

K

Key Indicator

A key indicator is typically a multivariable measure comprised of one or more standard IRIS metrics. It produces information that can be used to describe performance towards key dimensions of impact. IRIS+ Core Metrics Sets may comprise of a variety of different key indicators. Key indicators included in IRIS+ are those which are shown to be essential to the understanding progress or achievement of the impact goals of the investment in question.

L

Large Enterprises

Businesses with more than 250 workers.

Source: Adapted from the International Finance Corporation

Legal and Regulatory Complaint

A formal legal or regulatory complaint includes any complaint levied against the organization by an individual, other organization, or government body, due to the organization's violations of rules of any government, regulatory organization, licensing agency, or professional association governing their professional activities and any resulting externalities.

Liability

A liability is a present obligation of the organization arising from past events, the settlement of which is expected to result in an outflow from the entity of resources with economic benefit.

Source: Adapted from International Financial Reporting Standards

Limited Liability Company

An organization that is owned by one or more members and controlled by members or managers.

Source: Adapted from the United States Internal Revenue Service

Loan Officer

A loan officer is a field staff member of record who is directly responsible for arranging and monitoring client loans.

Source: Consultative Group to Assist the Poor

Low Income

Low-income people are individuals or households living above the poverty line but below the national median income. Organizations should clearly footnote the poverty and median income thresholds used and the sources referenced, as the definition for “low income” is dependent on the economic status of the country they live in. For more information about poverty lines and Purchasing Power Parity visit: Poverty Index.

 

For U.S. individuals, some sources define low-income as: individuals whose annual (gross) income does not exceed 80% of the median family income for the area (adjusted for family size). Please refer to HUD standards.

 

Commonly used tools to help determine the poverty level of households include:

  • Poverty Probability Index® (PPI®): The PPI consists of a short set of easy-to-answer questions, which are scored and then converted to a likelihood that the household is below an established poverty line.
  • FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT): The FCAT uses survey instruments tailored to FINCA’s mission to collect data directly from a representative sample of randomly chosen borrowers. FCAT data includes income sources and dependents, monthly household expenditures, and daily per capita expenditures and poverty levels.  
  • EquityTool: The EquityTool is a simple tool to measure relative wealth. Using a short survey, the EquityTool allows you to compare the wealth of your respondents to the national or urban population in over 30 countries based on the Wealth Index. This tool provides results in terms of relative poverty (in quintiles).

 

As many poverty estimation tools require sampling or other estimation techniques, organizations that rely on assumptions should footnote details used in the calculation process. For example, organizations that sell solar lanterns via a series of local network distributors might estimate the number of poor clients based on government data on poverty levels based the geography of units sold. Details on how and why these assumptions were made should be footnoted.

Low Income Area

A geographic area (neighborhood, village, other region) where the median family income is less than 80% of the median family income of the surrounding vicinity.

Source: Adapted from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development

M

Manager

Managers are individuals who have the responsibility to oversee organizations or units within organizations. Managers plan, direct, coordinate, and evaluate the overall activities of enterprises, governments, and other organizations, or of organizational units within them, and formulate and review their policies, laws, rules, and regulations.

Source: Adapted from the International Labor Organization

Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are businesses defined by specific characteristics (e.g., number of employees, assets, revenue, capital and investment, turnover, or other) with parameters defined by the either a government agency in the business's domicile country or by private financial institutions.

For example, the World Bank defines small and medium enterprises SMEs as having a maximum of 300 employees, maximum revenues or turnover of $15,000,000, or maximum assets of $15,000,000, whereas the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) defines SMEs as having a maximum of 100 employees or maximum revenues or turnover of $3,000,000. IADB defines microenterprises as those with 10 or fewer workers, which are often unregistered and run by the poor or very poor.

Organizations can refer to the following resources for additional information on defining MSMEs for their context and should footnote the source they use.

Minimum Wage

The lowest wage permitted by law or by a special agreement (such as with a labor union). Note that a minimum wage differs from a living wage, which also takes into account external factors such as the local cost of living and number of dependents.

Since the minimum wage varies according to geography, IRIS does not define a minimum wage. Organizations can refer to the following resources for further guidance on defining their local minimum wage:

  • WageIndicator.org: The Wage Indicator website aims to provide real, strong wage data for operations in all countries. Its nation-based web pages function as online, up-to-date labor market libraries.
  • Fair Wage Guide: The Fair Wage Guide provides access to wage and pricing information for various countries. It helps users calculate local wages and compare them to local and international standards.

Note that organizations can cite other sources that provide more accurate information based on more immediately local circumstances and laws. Organizations should specify the industry/city/country for which they are citing the minimum wage and should reference the source of the minimum local wage they use. Organizations should footnote details used in the calculation process.

Minority or Previously Excluded

Individuals and groups historically denied power of one of the following sorts: 1) Power within - A sense of rights, dignity, and voice, along with basic capabilities; 2) Power with - Ability to organize and express views; 3) Power to - Ability to influence decision makers, whether the State, economic power holders, or others.

The term minority or previously excluded should relate to local guidelines for places with well-established policies (e.g., South Africa: Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) definition of previously excluded, India: based on backward caste).

Source: Adapted from UN Empowerment Policies

Mission Statement

The mission statement is a concise message that expresses how an organization generates financial, social, and/or environmental value through its business activities.

Metric

Individual IRIS metrics are numerical measures used in calculations or qualitative values to account for the social, environmental, and financial performance of an investment.

N

Native Species

Species native to a given territory means a species that has been observed in the form of a naturally occurring and self-sustaining population in historical times.

Source: "Nature and Environment, No. 119." Texts Adopted by the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Berne: Council of Europe Publishing, 1979. 35. Google Books. Web.

New Access to Education

Students who are provided schooling who previously were not in school because of the distance they had to travel, the cost they had to pay, or requirements of entry that prohibited the student from attending.

New Access to Energy

Previously un-electrified households served with access to electricity either from utility/community generation, distributed generation, or improved distribution during the reporting period.

New Access to Finance

Households or individuals that previously did not have access to finance.

New Access to Healthcare

Individuals who previously were not served by formal health care because of the distance they had to travel, the cost they had to pay, or requirements of entry that prohibited them from seeking such services.

New Access to Water

Households that previously did not have reasonable access to water. Reasonable access to water is defined as the availability of at least 20 liters per person per day from an acceptable source within one kilometer of the user's dwelling.

Acceptable water sources include: household connection, public standpipe, borehole, protected dug well or spring water, rainwater collection, connection to a public sewer or septic system, pour-flush or simple-pit latrine, and ventilated improved pit-latrine.

Source: United Nations World Water Assessment Programme

Non-Hazardous Waste

Refuse that is not considered hazardous.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme

Non-profit Organization/Non-governmental Organization

A non-profit organization is one that is registered as a non-profit entity according to the rules/regulations of the country in which it is based. A non-governmental organization (NGO) has primarily humanitarian or cooperative, rather than commercial, objectives and is largely independent of government. Refer to national regulations of the country in which it is based.

Non-renewable Energy

Non-renewable energy is from sources that cannot be replenished (made again) in a short period of time, so their quantity is considered finite. Non-renewable energy sources include oil and petroleum products (including gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and propane), natural gas, coal, and uranium (nuclear energy).

Source: Adapted from the Global Reporting Initiative

Non-Salaried

Employees who are paid on a variable basis (e.g., hourly, daily, other specified time cycle, or other specified parameter). Non-salaried employees' earnings are contingent on the amount of time worked or specific tasks completed.

O

Occupational Fatality

An occupational fatality occurs if an event or exposure results in the fatal injury or fatal illness of a person, either on the employer's premises and the person was there to work, or off the employer's premise and the person was there to work (or the event/exposure was related to the person's work or status an employee).

Sources: Adapted from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Injury

An occupational injury is any personal injury, disease, or death resulting from an occupational accident. An occupational accident is an unexpected and unplanned occurrence, including acts of violence, arising out of or in connection with work which results in one or more workers incurring a personal injury.

Source: International Labor Organization, and search "occupational injury"

Outcome

Change for affected stakeholders that is plausibly associated with the products/services of the enterprise

Source: Adapted from Guidelines on Outcomes Management for Financial Service Providers, SPTF

P

Part-time Employee

Part-time paid employees work year round but do not meet full-time equivalency standards (typically less than 35 hours a week).

Partnership

An organization that is owned by two or more individuals or other entities and is controlled by those partners.

Source: Adapted from the United States Internal Revenue Service

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

Organization operates by matching client individuals who have a service to offer, to other client individuals who could use that service.

Perennial Snow or Ice

Land with perennial snow cover, including perennial snowfields, and glaciers.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Peri-urban

The areas immediately adjoining urban areas. Such areas are found outside formal urban boundaries and urban jurisdictions which are in a process of urbanization and which therefore progressively assume many of the characteristics of urban areas. Inhabitants in these areas generally fall into the low-income group of the community and mostly live in slums. These peri-urban areas are also seen as an interface between the urban and rural areas.

Source: Adapted from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

Permanently Protected Land

Protected land for which legal land use restrictions set for the purposes of maintaining biological diversity and natural resources are permanent and established in perpetuity. Being established in perpetuity means that the deed of conservation easement must state that the restriction remains on the property forever and is binding on current and future owners of the property. See definition for "Protected Land."

Source: Adapted from the United States Internal Revenue Service

Pesticides

Pesticides refers to insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, disinfectants, and any substance intended for preventing, destroying, attracting, repelling, or controlling any pest, including unwanted species of plants or animals during the production, storage, transport, distribution, and processing of food, agricultural commodities, or animal feeds that may be administered to animals for the control of parasites.

Organizations that use pesticides with varying levels of hazard can refer to the following source for further information on recommended classifications of pesticides by hazard level: The WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard (http://www.who.int/ipcs/publications/pesticides_hazard/en/)”

Sources: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO)

Point of Care

The time and place of patient care when a healthcare professional delivers products and services. Point of care assumes that test results will be available instantly or in a very short time frame to assist caregivers with immediate diagnosis and/or clinical intervention.

Source: The Navigating Impact project

Poor

Using a consumption-based approach to measure poverty, the poor are defined as individuals or households living below a recognized poverty line. Poverty lines establish the minimum income or expenditure that would meet a household’s basic needs. Commonly recognized poverty lines include (1) the national poverty line set by the national government and (2) the international US $3.20 per person per day expenditure at 2011 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).*

Commonly used tools to help determine the poverty level of households include:

  • Poverty Probability Index® (PPI®): The PPI consists of a short set of easy-to-answer questions, which are scored and then converted to a likelihood that the household is below an established poverty line.
  • FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT): The FCAT uses survey instruments tailored to FINCA’s mission to collect data directly from a representative sample of randomly chosen borrowers. FCAT data includes income sources and dependents, monthly household expenditures, and daily per capita expenditures and poverty levels. 
  • EquityTool: The EquityTool is a simple tool to measure relative wealth. Using a short survey, the EquityTool allows you to compare the wealth of your respondents to the national or urban population in over 30 countries based on the Wealth Index. This tool provides results in terms of relative poverty (in quintiles).

Organizations should clearly footnote the poverty thresholds used, the sources referenced, and ensure that poverty is being measured properly at either the individual or household level. As many poverty estimation tools require sampling or other estimation techniques, organizations that rely on assumptions should footnote details used in the calculation process. For example, organizations that sell solar lanterns via a series of local network distributors might estimate the number of poor clients based on government data on poverty levels based on the geography of units sold. Details on how and why these assumptions were made should be footnoted.

 

*Sourced from The World Bank and their World Development Indicators.

**Absolute poverty is measured against a set, objective standard which allows for comparisons across countries. Relative poverty is measured against other households rather than against an absolute standard.

Potable

Water safe enough to be consumed by humans or used with low risk of immediate or long-term harm. Potable water can be used for domestic purposes, drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene.

Source: Adapted from the World Health Organization

Privilege

A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

Source: Criterion Institute

Protected Land

An area of land especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of conservation values and managed through an enforceable legal mechanism.

Legal restrictions protecting land may be permanent or nonpermanent. See permanently protected land.

Source: Adapted from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Provisioning Values/Services

Provisioning Values/Services are the goods or products that are obtained from ecosystems.

  • Food: Includes crops, livestock, capture fisheries, aquaculture, and wild foods
  • Biological raw materials: Includes timber and other wood products, fibers and resins, animal skins, sand, and ornamental resources
  • Biomass fuel: Biological material derived from living or recently living organisms—both plant and animal—that serves as a source of energy
  • Freshwater: Inland bodies of water, groundwater, rainwater, and surface waters for household, industrial, and agricultural uses
  • Genetic resources: Genes and genetic information used for animal breeding, plant improvement, and biotechnology
  • Biochemicals, natural medicines, pharmaceuticals: Medicines, biocides, food additives, and other biological materials derived from ecosystems for commercial or domestic use

Source: World Resources Institute

Q

Qualified Conservation Organization

An organization is qualified if it is a government entity or a publicly recognized charity or social purpose organization. The organization must be committed to ensuring the conservation purpose of the land. For example, qualified conservation organizations will generally have an established monitoring program such as annual property inspections to ensure compliance with the conservation goals or terms of the legal encumbrances on the land. The organization must also have the resources to enforce the restrictions of the conservation easement. Resources do not necessarily mean cash. Resources may be in the form of volunteer services such as lawyers who provide legal services or people who inspect and prepare monitoring reports.

Source: Adapted from the United States Internal Revenue Service

Quality Assurance Mechanisms

Peer review/supervision: formal quality performance assessment of staff, either through peer review mechanisms or supervision. Assessments often focus on documentation and record keeping. Emphasizing outcomes measurement and providing structured assessment criteria and forms improve the reliability of these mechanisms.

Audit and feedback: involves assessing how well staff are meeting accepted guidelines or standard practice, often by reviewing patients' charts or other documentation. The most common types of audit and feedback systems are (a) clinical error tracking, (b) guideline adherence monitoring, and (c) stocking and storage monitoring.

Checklists and logs: checklists, prompts, and log sheets are common tools for quality assurance in healthcare. Common examples are safety checklists for surgery and equipment maintenance logs.

Electronic monitoring systems: these systems collect and organize patient health and organizational performance data. They can be used to track patient outcomes, client flows, and manage equipment utilization.

Communication and education: structured learning and a focus on communication, human factors, and systematized ways of interacting. The most common techniques include classroom or small group-based training methods, conducting practical activities, and work based learning. Communication and education programs can target staff or patients.

Guidelines, protocols, and registries: these tools help provide more integrated, continuous, and evidence-based care. They provide recommendations and instructions for patient management and care.

R

Rangeland

Rangeland historically has been defined as land where the potential natural vegetation is predominantly grasses, grasslike plants, forbs, or shrubs, and where natural herbivory was an important influence in its pre-civilization state. Management techniques which associate soil, water, and forage-vegetation resources are more suitable for rangeland management than are practices generally used in managing pastureland. Some rangelands have been or may be seeded to introduced or domesticated plant species. Rangeland subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include: herbaceous range, shrub and brush rangeland, and mixed rangeland.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Recalls

Recalls are actions taken by the organization to remove a product from the market. Recalls may be conducted on an organization's own initiative, by a regulatory body's request, or by a regulatory body's order under statutory authority.

Recycled Materials

Materials that comprise of processed recovered waste. Recycled materials may include glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Composted or other processed biodegradable waste is also considered recycled material.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Recycled Water

Recycled Water is treated waste water that is used for beneficial purposes (e.g., previously used and treated water to be used for irrigation, toilet water, etc.).

Source: World Resources Institute

Recycling

The reprocessing of materials into new products, which generally prevents the waste of potentially useful materials, reduces the consumption of raw materials, lowers energy usage, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions compared to virgin production.

Source: Adapted from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Reforested

Planting of forests on lands that have previously contained forest but have since been converted to some other use.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Regulating Values/Services

Regulating Values/Services are the benefits obtained from an ecosystem's control of natural processes. They include:

  • Maintenance of air quality: Influence ecosystems have on air quality by emitting chemicals to the atmosphere or extracting chemicals from the atmosphere
  • Regulation of climate: Influence ecosystems have on the global climate by emitting or absorbing greenhouse gases or aerosols from the atmosphere, as well as influence ecosystems have on local or regional temperature, precipitation, and other climatic factors
  • Regulation of water timing and flows: Influence ecosystems have on the timing and magnitude of water runoff, flooding, and aquifer recharge, particularly in terms of the water storage potential of the ecosystem or landscape
  • Erosion control: Role ecosystems play in retaining and replenishing soil and sand deposits
  • Water purification and waste treatment: Role ecosystems play in the filtration and decomposition of organic wastes and pollutants in water; assimilation and detoxification of compounds through soil and subsoil processes
  • Disease mitigation: Influence that ecosystems have on the incidence and abundance of human pathogens
  • Maintenance of soil quality: Role ecosystems play in sustaining soil's biological activity, diversity, and productivity, regulating and partitioning water and solute flow, and storing and recycling nutrients and gases, among other functions
  • Pest mitigation: Influence ecosystems have on the prevalence of crop and livestock pests and diseases
  • Pollination: Role ecosystems play in transferring pollen from male to female flower parts
  • Natural hazard mitigation: Capacity for ecosystems to reduce the damage caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis and to maintain natural fire frequency and intensity

Sources: World Resources Institute

Remittances

Cross-border, person-to-person payments of a relative low value. Typically, a private flow of funds between family members.

Source: IFAD

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy sources are those derived from natural processes that are capable of being replenished in a short time through ecological cycles. These sources have the benefit of being abundant, available in some capacity nearly everywhere, and they cause little if any environmental damage. Renewable energy sources include: Geothermal, Wind, Solar, Hydro, and Biomass. They also include electricity and heat generated from ocean, hydropower, biofuels, and hydrogen derived from renewable resources.

Source: Adapted from the Global Reporting Initiative

Reporting Period

The reporting period is the time from the Report Start Date (OD6951) to the Report End Date (OD7111).

Responsible Finance

Responsible finance refers to offering financial services in an accountable, transparent, respectful, and ethical manner. The responsible finance movement in the inclusive finance sector consists of a series of well-coordinated initiatives to enhance client protection, strengthen social performance management, and define acceptable behavior for investors and donors. The most important of these are the Smart Campaign (Client Protection Principles) and the Social Performance Task Force (Universal Standards for Social Performance Management)

Source: The Navigating Impact project

Revenue

Revenue is the gross inflow of economic benefits arising in the course of the ordinary activities of an organization when those inflows result in increases in equity, excluding increases relating to contributions from equity participants. Revenue includes only the gross inflows of monies received and receivable by the organization on its own account. Amounts collected on behalf of third parties, such as sales taxes, goods and services taxes, and value added taxes are not economic benefits which flow to the entity and do not result in increases in equity. Therefore, they are excluded from revenue. Similarly, in an agency relationship, the gross inflows of economic benefits include amounts collected on behalf of the principal and do not result in increases in equity for the entity. The amounts collected on behalf of the principal are not revenue. Instead, revenue is the amount of commission.

Source: Alexander, David, Anne Britton, and Ann Jorissen. International Financial Reporting and Analysis. 3rd ed. London: Thomson Learning, 2007. 417. Google Books. Web.

Rough Sleep

To sleep or bed down in the open air (such as on the streets or in doorways, parks, or bus shelters) or in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or 'bashes').

Source: Who, What, Why: How Do You Count Rough Sleepers?

Rural

Rural areas are those not characterized as peri-urban or urban. The traditional distinction between urban and rural areas within a country has been based on the assumption that urban areas, no matter how they are defined, provide a different way of life and usually a higher level of living than are found in rural areas. In many industrialized countries, this distinction has become blurred and the principal difference between urban and rural areas in terms of the circumstances of living tends to be a matter of the degree of concentration of population. Although the differences between urban and rural ways of life and standards of living remain significant in developing countries, rapid urbanization in these countries has created a great need for information related to different sizes of urban areas. This is when classification by size of locality can usefully supplement the urban-rural dichotomy or even replace it depending on the circumstances in the country.

Source: United Nations Statistical Commission, Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, 2013

Rural Finance

Provision of financial services in rural areas that support a wide range of economic activities and households of various income levels.

Source: ILO

S

Salaried

Employees who are paid on a fixed basis, receiving a predetermined amount (as defined in a contract, for example) that is not subject to deductions for the quality or quantity of work. Salaried employees' earnings are not contingent on the amount of time worked and are typically paid for a defined term (e.g., yearly).

Sex

Sex refers to the biology of an individual with specific reference to their chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify them as female, male, or intersex at birth.

Source: Criterion Institute

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome sexual advances or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, abusive, or offensive working environment.

Behavior that qualifies as sexual harassment includes the following:

  • Physical: Physical violence; touching; unnecessary close proximity
  • Verbal: Comments and questions about appearance, life-style, sexual orientation; offensive phone calls
  • Non-verbal: Whistling; sexually-suggestive gestures; display of sexual materials

Source: International Labor Organization, and search "sexual harassment"

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person. It includes but is not limited to: asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, straight, etc.

Source: Criterion Institute

Smallholder Farmers

Smallholder farmers are marginal and sub-marginal farm households constrained in size and resources. Some sources define smallholder farmers as those who cultivate between 1 hectare to 10 hectares (for more semi-arid areas) of land. While they will vary in farm size and crop/livestock distribution according to their activity and region, common characteristics of smallholder farmers are that they have low access to technology, limited resources in terms of capital, skills, and risk management, depend on family labor for most activities, and have limited capacity in terms of storage, marketing, and processing.

Organizations should detail the characteristics of the smallholders they reference, including the size of land managed.

Source: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

Social Performance Management

Social performance management (SPM) refers to the systems that organizations use to achieve their stated social goals and put customers at the center of strategy and operations. A provider's social performance refers to its effectiveness in achieving its stated social goals and creating value for clients. If a provider has strong SPM practices, it is more likely to achieve strong social performance.

Source: Social Performance Task Force.

Sole-Proprietorship

An organization controlled by an individual owner.

Source: Adapted from the United States Internal Revenue Service

Solidarity Group Lending

Solidarity Group lending refers to the use of groups for disbursement of funds and collection of repayment on loans to either the group as a whole or to the individual members of that group. Borrowers of such groups often bear joint and several liability for the repayment of all loans to the group and its members. This group liability may also determine credit decisions made by the institution. Solidarity Groups vary in the degrees to which they use groups for credit decisions, disbursement, collection, or to reduce credit risk. For IRIS, loans are considered to be of the Solidarity Group methodology when some aspect of loan consideration depends on the group, including credit analysis, liability, guarantee, collateral, and loan size and conditions.

Source: Microfinance Information Exchange

Stakeholder

A person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business. Stakeholders may include customers, clients, users, end users, constituent, and beneficiaries.

Source: The Impact Management Project.

Stock-Out

A stock-out is a situation in which an item is out of stock (for example, when a pharmacy runs out of a certain type of medicine or health supply).

Source: The Navigating Impact project

Strategic Goal

IRIS+ includes common strategic goals deployed by impact investors to achieve established social or environmental impact objectives within generally accepted impact categories and themes. Strategic goals included in IRIS+ have been recognized as common practice and are supported by evidence and research. A corresponding core metrics sets has been created for each strategic goal in IRIS+. Source: IRIS+ Thematic Taxonomy

Streams

A stream refers to a natural flowing body of water. It typically has a current and is confined within a bed and stream banks.

Organizations can refer to the following sources for further information on the definition of a stream:

Supplier

Business that provides goods or services to an organization to help move a product or service from the organization to its customer.

Supporting Values/Services

Supporting Values/Services are the natural processes that maintain the other ecosystem services.

  • Habitat: Natural or semi-natural spaces that maintain species populations and protect the capacity of ecological communities to recover from disturbances
  • Nutrient cycling: Flow of nutrients (e.g., nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, carbon) through ecosystems
  • Primary production: Formation of biological material by plants through photosynthesis and nutrient assimilation
  • Water cycling: Flow of water through ecosystems in its solid, liquid, or gaseous forms

Source: World Resources Institute

Surface Water

Water on the surface of the Earth, such as streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, or oceans.

Sustainable Cultivation

Sustainable cultivation/farming practices commonly include: crop rotations that mitigate weeds, disease, insect, and other pest problems, provide alternative sources of soil nitrogen, reduce soil erosion, and reduce risk of water contamination by agricultural chemicals. Common practices also include pest control strategies that are not harmful to natural systems, farmers, their neighbors, or consumers. This includes integrated pest management techniques that reduce the need for pesticides by practices such as: scouting, use of resistant cultivars, timing of planting, biological pest controls, increased mechanical/biological weed control, more soil and water conservation practices, strategic use of animal and green manures, and use of natural or synthetic inputs in a way that poses no significant hazard to man, animals, or the environment.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture Dictionary

Sustainable Stewardship

Sustainable stewardship is a holistic approach intended over the long term to: enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of working landscapes; and enhance the quality of life for those living and working on the land and society as a whole. Stewardship refers to land management practices as opposed to legal restrictions on the use of the land. Economic activities that take place on sustainably stewarded land may include sustainable farming, ranching, forestry, and recreation. More specifically:

  • Sustainable cultivation: see Sustainable Cultivation.
  • Sustainable forestry: Stewardship and use of forests and forest lands that maintains biodiversity, productivity, and regeneration capacity and fulfills relevant ecological, economic, and social functions. Land use practices typical of sustainable forestry include minimal and highly controlled clear cutting, replanting with native species, and conservation-oriented management of old growth forests.
  • Sustainable ranching: Ranching practices and use of grazing lands that enhance the environmental quality and natural resource base, for example, maintaining biodiversity, productivity, and regeneration capacity and fulfilling relevant ecological, economic and social functions. Sustainable ranching practices include managing grazing patterns to reduce surface compaction, water runoff, and maintain diverse plant communities, riparian habitat, stream stability, soil structure, and nutrient cycles.
  • Sustainable recreation: Hectares open to recreational use, including hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, paddling, winter sports, and other activities in ways that ensure long term maintenance of biodiversity and natural resources. Sustainable recreation management practices include educating visitors on appropriate practices to limit their impact and identifying carrying capacities for visitors and visitor activities such that environmental impacts are within limits of acceptable change, which may include limiting the number of visitors, planning campsites, and restricting vehicles.

Source: IRIS Land Conservation Working Group

T

Temporary Employee

Temporary employees are defined as seasonal and contract employees. Seasonal employees are primarily used in agriculture or fisheries. Contracted employees are generally hired for the completion of a specific task.

Source: Adapted from the International Labor Organization

Tenor of Loan

The length of time until a loan is due.

Source: Nasdaq

Theory of Change

The theory of change (also referred to as the Theory of Value Creation or Logic Model) is an expression of the sequence of cause-and-effect actions or occurrences by which organizational and financial resources are assumed to be converted into the desired social results. It provides a conceptual road map for how an organization expects to achieve its intended impact and is often displayed in a diagram. A framework built around concepts of activities, inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impacts is called a logic model or impact value chain.

Sources:

Threatened Species

Threatened species are any species (including animals, plants, fungi, etc.) which are likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The term threatened is an umbrella term for a group of categories that captures various levels of threat to the species, ranging from vulnerable species to endangered species to critically endangered species.

Organizations can refer to the following sources for further guidance and for clarification on the classification definitions cited herein:

Tokenism

A minimal or symbolic effort to advance social justice, often associated with recruiting a small number of people or single person from underrepresented groups to give the appearance of diversity and equality.

Source: Criterion Institute’s Key Concepts in Gender

Toxic Materials

Materials contaminating the environment that cause death, disease, or birth defects in the organisms that ingest or absorb them. The quantities and the length of exposure necessary to cause these effects can vary widely.

Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Transgender

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Source: Human Rights Campaign

Tundra

Tundra is the term applied to the treeless regions beyond the limit of the boreal forest and above the altitudinal limit of trees in high mountain ranges. The timber line which separates forest and tundra in alpine regions corresponds to an arctic transition zone in which trees are increasingly restricted to the most favorable sites. The vegetative cover of the tundra is low, dwarfed, and often forms a complete mat. These plant characteristics are in large part the result of adaptation to the physical environment (one of the most extreme on Earth), where temperatures may average above freezing only one or two months out of the year, where strong desiccating winds may occur, where great variation in solar energy received may exist, and where permafrost is encountered almost everywhere beneath the vegetative cover.

The Anderson Land Classification System includes the following subcategories of Tundra: shrub and brush tundra, herbaceous tundra, bare ground tundra, wet tundra, and mixed tundra.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

U

Unbanked

Those who do not have access to the services of a bank or similar financial organization.

Source: The Navigating Impact project

Underbanked

Those who do not use all the financial services that those with that level of income would normally be expected to use.

Source: The Navigating Impact project

Urban

Urban areas are characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Use guidelines as defined by the area's national government.

Source: United Nations Demographic Yearbook

Urban/Built-up Land

Urban or Built-up Land is comprised of areas of intensive use with much of the land covered by structures. Included in this category are cities, towns, villages, strip developments along highways, transportation, power, communications facilities, areas such as those occupied by mills, shopping centers, industrial and commercial complexes, and institutions that may, in some instances, be isolated from urban areas.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

V

Very Poor

Using a consumption-based approach to measure poverty, the very poor are individuals or households living below a recognized extreme poverty line. Poverty lines establish the minimum income or expenditure that would meet a household’s basic needs. The $1.90 per person per day 2011 PPP line is the World Bank’s current definition of extreme poverty.  Another commonly used measure of very poor is individuals or households in the bottom 20% of the national population.

Commonly used tools to help determine the poverty level of households include:

  • Poverty Probability Index® (PPI®): The PPI consists of a short set of easy-to-answer questions, which are scored and then converted to a likelihood that the household is below an established poverty line.
  • FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT): The FCAT uses survey instruments tailored to FINCA’s mission to collect data directly from a representative sample of randomly chosen borrowers. FCAT data includes income sources and dependents, monthly household expenditures, and daily per capita expenditures and poverty levels.  
  • EquityTool: The EquityTool is a simple tool to measure relative wealth. Using a short survey, the EquityTool allows you to compare the wealth of your respondents to the national or urban population in over 30 countries based on the Wealth Index. This tool provides results in terms of relative poverty (in quintiles).

Organizations should clearly footnote the poverty thresholds used, the sources referenced, and ensure that the unit of measure (individual or household) matches the organization’s definition of target stakeholders.  As many poverty estimation tools require sampling or other estimation techniques, organizations that rely on assumptions should footnote details used in the calculation process. For example, organizations that sell solar lanterns via a series of local network distributors might estimate the number of poor clients based on government data on poverty levels based the geography of units sold. Details on how and why these assumptions were made should be footnoted.

 

*Sourced from The World Bank and their World Development Indicators.

Village/Self-Help Group Lending

Village Banking and Self-Help Groups refer to methodologies that provide access to credit and savings services through group or community managed associations. Loans from microfinance institutions (MFIs) are considered of this type when the MFI lends to the group, which in turn uses this money to lend to its members. Loans to the Village Bank or Self-Help Group are made under the collective guarantee of the group. Loans may also be made from the retained profits of the group or from group members' savings. These loans are considered internal to the Village Bank or Self-Help Group.

Source: Microfinance Information Exchange

Vocational or Technical Training

A comprehensive term referring to those aspects of the educational process involving deliberate interventions in the study of technologies and related sciences to bring about learning that supports the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding, and knowledge that make people more productive in designated areas of economic activity (e.g., economic sectors, occupations, specific work tasks, etc.).

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training

Voluntary Accounts

Voluntary savings accounts are funds that individuals or organizations voluntarily deposit or withdrawal. Voluntary accounts are philosophically different than compulsory savings which had been introduced as a condition for obtaining a loan and are designed to ensure that clients are able to meet their repayments.

Source: Adapted from Women's World Banking

Volunteer

An individual that works for the organization without payment or other formal compensation for their time or services.

Source: Adapted from International Labor Organization Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work

Vulnerable Employment

Own-account workers and contributing family workers (self-employed without formal employees and contributing family members).

Source: ILO

W

Warranty

A type of guarantee that an organization makes regarding the condition of its product or effectiveness of its service. It also refers to the terms and situations in which repairs or exchanges will be made in the event that the product or service does not function as originally described or intended.

Source: Adapted from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission

Wastewater

A combination of one or more of the following: -Domestic effluent consisting of blackwater (excreta, urine, and fecal sludge) and greywater (kitchen and bathing wastewater) -Water from commercial establishments and institutions, including hospitals -Industrial effluent, stormwater, and other urban run-off -Agricultural, horticultural, and aquaculture effluent, either dissolved or as suspended matter

Source: United Nations Environment Programme

Water Areas

Water areas include streams and canals, lakes, reservoirs, and bays and estuaries.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Water Conservation

Water conservation refers to efforts made to preserve, control, develop water resources, and prevent pollution. This may include reducing the total amount of water needed to carry out current processes or tasks but does not include overall reduction in water consumption from reduced organizational activities (e.g., partial outsourcing of production). Conservation efforts include organizational or technological innovations that allow a defined process or task to consume water more efficiently. This includes improved water management practices, process redesign, the conversion and retrofitting of equipment (e.g., water-efficient equipment), or the elimination of unnecessary water use due to changes in behavior.

Source: Adapted from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Wetland

Wetlands are those areas where the water table is at, near, or above the land surface for a significant part of most years. The hydrologic regime is such that aquatic or hydrophytic vegetation is usually established, although alluvial and tidal flats may be nonvegetated. Wetlands are frequently associated with topographic lows, even in mountainous regions. Examples of wetlands include: marshes, mudflats, and swamps situated on the shallow margins of bays, lakes, ponds, streams, and manmade impoundments such as reservoirs. They also include wet meadows or perched bogs in high mountain valleys and seasonally wet or flooded basins, playas, or potholes with no surface water outflow. Shallow water areas where aquatic vegetation is submerged are classified as open water and are not included in the Wetland category.

Extensive parts of some river flood plains qualify as Wetlands, as do regularly flooded irrigation overflow areas. These do not include agricultural land where seasonal wetness or short-term flooding may provide an important component of the total annual soil moisture necessary for crop production. Areas in which soil wetness or flooding is so short-lived that no typical wetlands vegetation is developed properly belong in other categories.

Cultivated wetlands such as the flooded fields associated with rice production and developed cranberry bogs are classified as Agricultural Land.

Uncultivated wetlands from which wild rice, cattails, wood products, and so forth are harvested or wetlands grazed by livestock are retained in the Wetland category. Wetland areas drained for any purpose belong to other land use and land cover categories such as Agricultural Land, Rangeland, Forest Land, or Urban or Built-up Land. When the drainage is discontinued and such use ceases, classification may revert to Wetland. The Anderson Land Classification System includes two subcategories of Wetland: Forested and Nonforested.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Written Premium

The insurance premium registered on the books at the time a policy is issued and paid for.

Source: International Risk Management Institute