The Positive Impact Indicators Directory has been designed to help harmonise monitoring and reporting across a range of environmental and social impact areas: biodiversity conservation, forest protection, sustainable production, climate action and sustainable livelihoods. An updated set of indicators went live in August 2023.

Developed by UNEP and UNEP-WCMC, the Directory is designed to support financial institutions to identify and measure how their investments generate positive environmental and social impacts. This is particularly important for the land use sector, which is especially complex and hard to measure. Users can be guided through which of the 23 indicators are most appropriate to their projects and capabilities, or view the full list of indicators and filter them by impact area and related SDGs.

This Directory was developed in consultation with UNEP's Environmental & Social Knowledge Exchange Network (ESKEN) including public donors, impact fund managers and technical monitoring specialists. More than 180 indicators were reviewed as part of the directory's initial development, drawn from existing funds and wider sustainable investment initiatives. The indicators were further updated in 2023, strengthening the livelihoods and gender aspects and adding a new indicators around sustainable production. This process has resulted in 23 technically sound and relevant indicators to inform more consistent impact measurement. They have been organised into five impact areas identified as priorities by the ESKEN community: Biodiversity, Forests, Livelihoods, Climate Action and Sustainable Production.

The indicators provide guidance on the best available methods to monitor and report environmental and social impacts. Depending on the user's objectives for monitoring positive impacts, it may be appropriate either to report against all indicators, or a selected few aligned to the user’s needs. Integrating these indicators into investors' impact strategies helps to ensure contributions to the SDGs, as well as the three Rio Conventions on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification.

For more information regarding this tool or its application, please contact


  • Why positive impact indicators?

    While many financial institutions have begun to make commitments to reduce their negative E&S impacts, progress has so far been slow. Only a third have risk-management policies for deforestation covering the most significant commodities. Although the implementation of these policies will improve outcomes, financial institutions now need to think beyond risk management. They should consider how they can incentivise, monitor and report positive E&S impacts generated through their investment portfolios. Demonstrating positive environmental and social (E&S) impact will be key to ensuring an increase in blended finance instruments and private capital flows into sustainable practices.

  • Why have we developed this Directory for sustainable land use finance, and who is it for?

    This Directory is a curated shortlist of recommended land-use finance indicators to accelerate harmonisation of reporting in this space. The 25 indicators have been selected from over 180 compiled from existing impact funds and wider sustainable investment initiatives, including the IRIS+ Forest, Agricultural and Livelihoods indicators. By compiling and condensing such a range of indicators, we hope to provide some clarity in the bewildering array of options for impact measurement. We also hope to encourage a harmonisation of reporting requirements in this space, so that projects can be compared more easily. The process of compiling the selected indicators was conducted through extensive consultation with representatives from investment funds, banks, donors and non-governmental organisations.

    The Directory has been compiled with input from, and considering the needs of impact investors and blended finance funds. However, we hope that other financial institutions and impact-orientated organisations will also find the tool helpful in informing their thinking.

  • What changed in the updates to the indicators between Version 1 and Version 2?

    Updates to the Indicators Directory went live in August 2023. The updates built on learnings from work with impact funds in the three years between the initial development of the indicators and the updates, and reflect changes in best practice in that period.  

    The big changes were: 

    - Combine the impact areas of Climate Mitigation and Climate Adaptation into a new impact are called Climate Action. 

    - Add a new impact area called Sustainable Production to capture indicators relating to agricultural yield and value chains. 

    - Strengthen existing indicators within Biodiversity and Forests impact areas, and streamline them. 

    - Add a stronger gender element to the Livelihoods impact area. 

    A summary of all the changes can be found here.  

  • How can an organisation claim that they have aligned with the indicators in the Positive Impact Indicators Directory?

    For an organisation to claim that they are aligned with the indicators in the Positive Impact Indicators Directory, they should follow the following criteria:

    - Users should have taken indicators from three or more impact areas. Core indicators should be prioritised from each impact area, with additional secondary indicators adopted where relevant to the fund’s needs.

    - And users should have aligned with the spirit of at least 5 indicators from the Directory

    Where possible, the Directory should be referred to as a source for the indicators in question – eg: ‘Based on [indicators short code] from the Positive Impact Indicators Directory, developed by UNEP and UNEP-WCMC.' Users should not use the UNEP or UNEP-WCMC logo to signal alignment with the Positive Impact Indicators Directory, unless there is prior agreement with the Directory team on this.

    For more information, see here.

  • Do you have any guidance on which of the indicators are core ones, and which are secondary?

    Yes, you can see the distinction between core and secondary indicators here. Core indicators should be prioritised across all investments. Secondary indicators add more detail, but may not be relevant to all investments.

  • Is there an overlap between the forests and the biodiversity indicators?

    In the development of the Directory, members of the ESKEN community requested KPIs specifically related to deforestation-free and forest positive investments, as these were a focus for their funds. This is how the Forest impact area came about, where indicators are specifically focused on forest management and protection.

    However, not all habitats of high biodiversity value are forests, and so depending on the investment or project using the broader term ‘natural habitat’ can be more helpful. Natural or critical habitats encompass all manner of biodiverse habitats, including forest.

    Due to this potential for double counting of forest, users should ensure that when choosing indicators for their project or portfolio they tailor them to the habitats expected, and use either forest KPIs, or natural/critical habitat KPIs, depending on the variety of habitats in the project area.

  • What about verification and certification?

    This tool is not designed to provide methodologies to verify or certify positive impacts, such as developing carbon credits. However, if this is the desired outcome, then additional resources can be sought specific to each of the impact areas of interest, and these could be used alongside the relevant indicators which they might align with. For example, a sustainable agriculture certification could be used alongside PRO 02 (Agricultural area covered by sustainable production techniques), or a carbon certification scheme in conjunction with CMA 02 (GHG emissions avoided due to non-conversion of natural habitat).

  • Disclaimer, copyright, citation and acknowledgements

    • © 2023 UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

      The UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is a global Centre of excellence on biodiversity. The Centre operates as a collaboration between the UN Environment Programme and the UK-registered charity WCMC. Together we are confronting the global crisis facing nature.

    • Citation

      UNEP & UNEP-WCMC (2023) Land Use Financing Impact Hub – Positive Impact Indicators Directory. Cambridge, UK

    • Acknowledgments

      This work has been conducted through the generous support of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg's Ministry of Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, and the Proteus Partnership. We would like to thank members of the Environmental & Social Knowledge Exchange Network for their guidance and feedback during the consultation which contributed significantly to the development of this tool.



    • 1. Definitions

      For the purposes of these Terms and Conditions the following definitions are used: “Website” or “the Site” means, which is operated by UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). “Services” means the web application and associated functions as provided through the Land Use Finance Impact Hub website. “User” is the organization or individual accessing the “Services”. “Materials” are any basic data, documents, downloads or other information accessible on the Site, with the exception of Third-Party Data and tailored Value-Added Services (e.g. value-added products such as APIs or services tailored to an institution’s need). “CC BY-SA 4.0” means the license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0): “Third-Party Data” means the datasets listed as sources on the country and global pages. “Value-Added Services” means all tailored, value-added products and services when available (e.g. APIs).

    • 2. Use of this Site is governed by the following terms and conditions:

      For the purposes of these Terms and Conditions the following definitions are used: UNEP-WCMC maintains the Site on behalf of UNEP and as a courtesy to those who choose to access the Site (“Users”). UNEP grants permission to Users to visit the Site and to download and copy Materials from the Site under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license terms for the Land Use Finance Impact Hub Website. For the avoidance of doubt, this does not include any Third-Party Data contained within the Site that will be governed by such third-party terms and conditions, as specified in each case. Images may not be reproduced in any form without the explicit prior written permission of UNEP. Textual content and data can be reproduced for all purposes, including commercial purposes, if and only if attribution is provided, and you provide a link to the licence and indicate if any changes were made. This should be done using the citation given in these Terms and Conditions. Videos can be shared via the YouTube link. However, videos may not be reproduced in any other form without the explicit written permission of UNEP. If you remix, transform or build upon the Materials you must distribute your contribution under the same original license terms. Publishers must delete the UNEP-WCMC logo from their edition and create a new design. Translations must bear the following disclaimer: The present work is an unofficial translation for which the publisher accepts full responsibility. No waiver by UNEP of any provision of these Terms and Conditions shall be binding except as set forth in writing and signed by its duly authorized representative. No Grant of Intellectual Property Rights. No rights in the Land Use Finance Impact Hub Materials are granted to the User by virtue of these Terms and Conditions or as a result of any use by the User of the Land Use Finance Impact Hub Materials. However, all intellectual property rights in the database are the property of UNEP.

    • 3. Attribution

      The User must ensure that the following citation is always clearly reproduced in any publication or analysis involving the Land Use Finance Impact Hub Materials in any derived form or format: UNEP-WCMC (year). Land Use Finance Impact Hub [On-line], [insert month/year of the version accessed], Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC. Available at: https:// All Third-Party Data should be cited according to their respective terms and conditions.

    • 4. Privacy

      The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in European Union law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It came into force on 25th May 2018. The GDPR aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU. It became enforceable on 25th May 2018, and is incorporated into the Data Protection Act 2008. At UNEP-WCMC, we are committed to being transparent about the use of the User’s personal data. The User’s data will be stored securely and will not be sold to third parties. The User’s data will not be shared with third parties except as outlined below. The purpose of this information is to describe how we collect and use personal data during the User’s engagement with the Site. For more information on how UNEP-WCMC handles data, please see the UNEP-WCMC Terms and Conditions. We take the User’s privacy very seriously and only store data where necessary to improve usability of the Site, tailor information to the User’s organisation, and to track impact for ourselves and our partners. To request that your data is deleted from our servers, please contact us on When you use our website We will process your personal data to: Keep the site secure and problem-free. Our web hosting provider keeps logs of connections to this site so that we can detect and prevent malicious activity. The logs contain your IP address (which can reveal your geographical location), the date and time of your connection, the pages you’ve visited in what order and for how long, and the browser you’re using (which can reveal the device you’re using as well). We make no use of this data on an individual level unless the traffic looks like an attack, in which case we will block the connection. It’s in our interest – and yours – that our site is secure and working properly, so this processing of personal data is done based on legitimate interests. Understand and report on how the Website and Materials are used. We track and share information on use of the website and associated materials to help us understand how we can improve our services, and to support UNEP and Third-Party Data providers with tracking and reporting on their impact. We remove all personal identifiers, and only share information at the level of organisation types. Cookies We use cookies to help identify your computer so that we can optimise the user experience. The Site uses the following cookies: Third-party Cookies. The Website may use several types of third-party cookies which include but are not limited to: Google Analytics - we use Google Analytics to collect data about the Website’s usage. This data will track the pages the User visits and record other User data such as how long you spend on each page. It does not include personal information. You can view the Google Privacy Policy here: Contacting us with comments or queries We only process personal data where you have given consent for us to do so. If, however, you have a comment or query about how we have handled your data or about the contents of this Privacy Statement, please contact us. We will respond efficiently to any complaints we receive. Our contact details are as follows: Removing personal data Users can request access to all data we have relating to them and have the right to request that this information be deleted. To submit such requests the user should contact:

    • 5. Disclaimers

      The contents of this Website do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of UNEP or WCMC and their contributory organizations or editors or Member States. The designations employed and the presentation of material on this Website do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of a commercial entity or product in this Website does not imply any endorsement by UNEP or WCMC. Materials provided on this Site are provided “as is” and UNEP or WCMC specifically do not make any warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any such Materials. Under no circumstances shall UNEP or WCMC be liable for any loss, damage, liability or expense incurred or suffered that is claimed to have resulted from the use of this Site, including, without limitation, any fault, error, omission, interruption or delay with respect thereto. The use of this Site is at the User’s sole risk. Under no circumstances, including, but not limited to negligence, shall UNEP or WCMC or their affiliates be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special or consequential damages, even if UNEP or WCMC have been advised of the possibility of such damages. As a condition of use of this Site, the User agrees to indemnify UNEP or WCMC and their affiliates from and against any and all actions, claims, losses, damages, liabilities and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) arising out of the User’s use of this Site, including, without limitation, any claims alleging facts that if true would constitute a breach by the User of these Terms and Conditions. If the User is dissatisfied with any Material on this Site or with any of its Terms and Conditions of Use, the User’s sole and exclusive remedy is to discontinue using the Site. This Site may contain links and references to third-party web sites. The linked sites are not under the control of UNEP or WCMC and UNEP or WCMC are not responsible for, nor do they endorse, any of their content.

    • 6. Preservation of immunities

      Nothing herein shall constitute or be considered a limitation upon or a waiver of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations, which are specifically reserved.

    • 7. General

      UNEP reserves its exclusive right in its sole discretion to alter, limit or discontinue the Site or any Materials. UNEP shall have no obligation to take the needs of any User into consideration in connection therewith. UNEP reserves the right to deny in its sole discretion any User access to this Site or any portion thereof without notice.

    • 8. Changes to These Terms and Conditions

      UNEP reserves the right to vary these Terms and Conditions from time to time without notice. Therefore, please ensure that you read these Terms and Conditions each time you use or download materials. By accessing and/or downloading Materials, you signify your acceptance of the most recent version of these Terms and Conditions in full.

    • 9. Value-added services

      The core of the Website and associated data apart from Third-Party Data are available on an open basis as detailed in CC BY-SA 4.0. Certain restricted and value-added datasets, services (e.g. APIs) and other products may be licensed on different terms and conditions if required by the User.