The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint for a better and more sustainable future. But the COVID-19 pandemic has more than doubled the financing gap to achieve them. According to the latest OECD outlook, it’s estimated to increase from US$2.5 trillion pre-COVID to $4.2 trillion.
The role of the private sector is becoming more important because this gap could be filled by aligning only 1.1 percent of the $379 trillion in global finance.
There is good news. Investors are fully acknowledging that sustainable development is essential, not only for the well-being of people and planet, but also for the future of their businesses. And investors, businesses, and the private sector are increasingly willing to work with international development institutions, governments, and civil society to align their investments and practices to the SDGs.
They have requested guidance from UNDP on how to direct their investment capital. Questions we often hear include: “Where are investments most impactful and profitable?”, “How should we prioritize and choose from different options?”, “How can we maximize the likelihood to generate positive impact?”.
The private sector is moving from the niche market approach of “impact investing” to mainstream sustainable development.
At SDG Impact we have been working hard to provide global decision-making standards that provide practical guidance for businesses, bond issuers and investors to embed economic, social, and environmental considerations into their decision-making and day-to-day operations. They aim to transform the way we do business and investing.
But is this sufficient? How can we accelerate the change that we wish to see and that is needed to address the social and environmental challenges humanity is facing? For some time, we left those questions unanswered and simply tried to do better.
Then one day it clicked. Aren’t we leaving out 1.8 billion people in this world aged between 15 and 29 years old at a time when we need all hands on the deck?