Social Impact workshop aims to ‘break the deadlock’ on road safety
An international meeting on social impact investing for road safety has been held in London, with participation from leading social investment policymakers and development banks.
The workshop, organised by the FIA Foundation with Social Finance and Impact Strategist, two leaders in policy development in the burgeoning 'payment for success' Social Impact Bond (SIB) market, considered whether social impact investing could herald a new era of safer road investment by making transparent the links between road safety measures and public health outcomes. The seminar built on a report, ‘Breaking the Deadlock: A Social Impact Investment Lens on Reducing Costs of Road Trauma and Unlocking Capital for Road Safety’, published in July as part of the FIA Foundation ‘Financing for Development’ series, which argues that private sector financing through a road safety Social Impact Bond framework could bring new funding sources and new rigour to transport investment within countries. The funding for the Social Impact Bonds is provided at risk by social investors whose financial return is aligned to the positive social impact of meeting pre-agreed social outcomes.
The Social Finance/Impact Strategist report highlights the need for increased financing for global road traffic injury prevention to achieve the new ‘Global Goals’ health target to halve road traffic fatalities by 2020, but argues out that significant improvements could be made if the billions of dollars of existing road infrastructure investment is deployed with the priority objective of realising social and financial savings from reduced injuries and fatalities. Structuring Social Impact Bonds with clear metrics measuring the effects of road safety policies - such as safe infrastructure design or enforcement campaigns - on specific health outcomes (e.g. reduction in number of hospital bed-days relating to road traffic victims) could 'break the deadlock' of decades of transport policy and planning divorced from consideration of public health outcomes.
Participants at the workshop included representatives of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the UK Cabinet Office, the UK Department for Transport, Big Society Capital, the Urban Institute, UNOPS, Oxford University, John Hopkins University, Social Terrain, insurance companies AGEAS and ‘Insure the Box’, the International Road Assessment Programme, Safe Kids Worldwide, the International Transport Forum and the Transport Accident Commission, Victoria. A panel of speakers shared perspectives on issues including: injury data collection, the economics of road safety, effective road traffic injury prevention interventions, expectations of social investors and perceived opportunities and obstacles to bringing social impact products to market. The workshop also discussed the report’s recommendations to advance SIB development in the area of road safety, with the aim of building a collaboration for ‘steps to action’ including:
- Identifying projects currently in development which could serve as a demonstration of how the social impact investment approach could be applied in the road safety context;
- Designing a methodology and toolkit for collection of data, with the aim of filling out the ‘missing piece’ to demonstrate who (for example in health systems or the insurance sector) bears which costs and to build an evidence base relating to particular interventions and outcomes achieved;
- Developing a road map to progress from illustrative models to advocating for and developing options that will deliver ‘Safe System’ change at scale.
Saul Billingsley, the FIA Foundation’s director, said: “We are grateful to all the diverse organisations that have come together today to explore opportunities to develop social impact financing models for road safety. There was considerable energy and enthusiasm for taking this research forward to the next stage, which will need to examine a range of road safety projects in high, middle and low income countries and seek to build the data picture in sufficient detail to allow us to connect investments with specific reduced health costs. Our hope is that this work can build a more robust case for road safety investment, as well as spurring new social impact investors to consider road traffic injury prevention as a cause worthy of their support.”