UNDP, with support from MAS and Partners Launch Project Savannah Whitepaper on Generating Digital Sustainability Credentials for MSMEs

March 15, 2024

Singapore, 15 March 2024… The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) published today the Whitepaper on Project Savannah to simplify micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) ESG Reporting and enhance their journey towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The paper is available for download here.

2    MSMEs play an important role in economic and social development by fostering value-adding activities, taking part in global supply chains, driving innovation, and promoting inclusive growth through the creation of job opportunities. However, complex ESG reporting frameworks and limited resources often lead to fragmentation in reporting efforts, with high costs and limited accessibility to technology preventing MSMEs from embarking on their sustainability reporting journeys.

3    Project Savannah, launched at the 2023 Inclusive FinTech Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, aims to address these challenges by providing MSMEs with a bite-sized approach to articulate and convey their basic ESG credentials to various stakeholders and market participants. Project Savannah aims to empower MSMEs in their sustainability journey through three key pillars: Metrics, Technology, and Opportunities:

  • The Metrics pillar focuses on establishing a globally relevant and harmonized set of common ESG metrics for MSMEs to generate basic ESG credentials for their key stakeholders, including regulators, FIs, and supply chain partners;
  • The Technology pillar focuses on matchmaking MSMEs to innovative solutions that simplify ESG data collection and reporting, making it cost-effective and user-friendly for MSMEs to evaluate and report their sustainability performances against the common baseline metrics;
  • The Opportunities pillar focuses on creating a robust network of opportunities for MSMEs, by facilitating the housing and transmission of their verifiable ESG data. Through engagement with stakeholders across MSME’s value chain like regulators, FIs, and multinational corporations (MNCs), the initiative aims to leverage this data for enhanced access to green procurement, financing, and supply chain opportunities.

4    Today, Project Savannah is taking the crucial first step toward establishing a baseline set of ESG metrics tailored to the needs of MSMEs. A first iteration of the metrics has been formulated through an analysis of leading global sustainability reporting frameworks and standards (including the GHG Protocol, the ISSB standards, and supporting the SDGs), and in consultation with UNDP’s  global offices and financial institutions (FIs) to understand its feasibility and possible methods of implementation.

5    The initiative will not only support MSMEs in their journey to meet reporting requirements, but also enable them to understand and subsequently address their ESG risks. This will empower them to access new financing and business opportunities in the increasingly green economy, allowing them to stay relevant and competitive.

6    UNDP, with support from MAS and partners will collaborate with international partners including the private sector and the public sector to test and refine the proposed metrics, and the methods for implementing it in different countries, to ensure interoperability internationally and to cater for the evolving needs of the industry.

7    Mr Marcos Neto, Assistant Secretary General and Director, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, UNDP, said, “UNDP seeks to enable underserved business segments, such as MSMEs, to access more sophisticated financial services such as savings, credit, investment and insurance and get started on their sustainability journey. MSMEs account for up to 90% of our businesses and 70% of employment worldwide, they are therefore essential to our livelihoods and economies. This year the G20 Sustainable Finance Study Group is exploring how digital solutions can help overcome barriers for sustainability reporting, particularly looking at the barriers faced by EMDE’s and SME. In line with these global priorities and efforts, the partnership between UNDP, MAS and GLEIF will help establish a common framework of ESG metrics for MSMEs. The framework, which will generate basic sustainability credentials through digital means, will be crucial in setting a baseline on their progress towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, these credentials will form a subset of the broader efforts by the UNDP and MAS to co-develop the Universal Trusted Credentials (UTC), an ongoing initiative that supports the digitisation and financial empowerment of MSMEs worldwide.”

8    Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, MAS, said, “This collaborative white paper is a groundbreaking effort to articulate a starting set of common ESG metrics for MSMEs across the globe. MAS will support the implementation of this white paper via its newly-established Gprnt (Greenprint) platform, to deploy the Savannah metrics in partnership with financial institutions across the globe. We look forward to expanding the Savannah network of collaborators to include more like-minded international bodies, national authorities, and industry actors, as we embark on this collective journey to refine the metrics and deploy technologies to support businesses in coming aboard the green global economy.”

9    Stephan Wolf, Chief Executive Officer at GLEIF, said, “We strongly advocate the availability and usage of the LEI to support open global initiatives such as Project Savannah, which will advance the digitalization of MSMEs worldwide. As a universal entity identification standard, the LEI brings a myriad of benefits to MSMEs everywhere, including fast and simple counterparty due diligence across borders, broader access to financing services, and effective compliance with a growing number of trade and ESG related regulations. With the increased adoption of the LEI in cross-border payments, the LEI is set not only to bolster trust and transparency in cross-border transparency but also to empower MSMEs by providing them with a clear and unique identification recognized globally.”


About United Nations Development Programme
As the United Nations lead agency on international development, UNDP works in 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. UNDP helps countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities, and to build resilience to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone.

About Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation
Established by the Financial Stability Board in June 2014, the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) is a not-for profit organization created to support the implementation and use of the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI). GLEIF services ensure the operational integrity of the Global LEI System. GLEIF also makes available the technical infrastructure to provide, via an open data license, access to the full global LEI repository free of charge to users. GLEIF is overseen by the Regulatory Oversight Committee, which is made up of representatives of public authorities from across the globe. The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a 20-character, alpha-numeric code based on the ISO 17442 standard. The LEI connects to key reference information that enables clear and unique identification of legal entities participating in financial transactions. It provides a universally recognized identifier paired with essential entity data, rigorous verification processes and high data quality.

For media enquiries, please contact: