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The Co-operators Group Ltd. has established a target to have impact investments represent 6% to 10% of its invested assets by the end of 2018, the Guelph, Ont.-based financial co-operative announced on Thursday.

Impact investing is an investment approach that seeks to create both financial returns and positive social or environmental impacts, which are actively measured and reported to stakeholders.

The Co-operators has identified climate change; health and wellness; and food, agriculture and natural resources as its three focus areas for impact investing.

“As an organization committed to being a catalyst for a sustainable society, it is important that our assets are invested in a way that produces not just a financial return for the organization, but also a helps create a healthier, more sustainable society for all,” says Bruce West, executive vice-president, finance and chief financial officer of The Co-operators, in a statement. “Formally adopting impact investing is an exciting new step we are taking as a sustainable investor.”

Impact investments made by The Co-operators are expected to achieve competitive risk adjusted investment returns and avoid undue risk of loss and will be global in nature with a preference for Canada, the co-operative says. At least one positive impact will be measured and reported for each impact investment, it adds, and authoritative guidance will be sought for qualifying environmental or social impacts.

Further information about The Co-operators approach to impact investing will be included in its 2015 Sustainability Report to be released in May.

The Co-operators has been investigating impact investment opportunities since 2013 and has made four investments representing approximately 0.5% of its assets with the intention of creating positive social or environmental impacts.

The assets of The Co-operators are managed by its subsidiary, Addenda Capital, which has been instrumental in helping co-operative develop and establish its impact investing strategy and has responsibility for executing it.

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