How the Private Sector Can Align to the SDGs

Opening remarks at UNGA High-Level Side Event: “How the Private Sector Can Align to the SDGs”

September 25, 2018


As prepared for delivery.


Good evening. I’m very pleased to open this session, which is looking at ways in which the private sector authenticates its role in helping the world achieve the SDGs. Tonight, I am announcing a new partnership with the Turkish government for an SDG Accelerator to be based in Istanbul, as well as a new initiative at UNDP called “SDG Impact”.

First, let me introduce our esteemed high-level panelists:
•    Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Republic of Turkey
•    Jens Frølich Holte, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
•    Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs Republic of Sri Lanka
•    Stefano Manservisi, Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)
•    Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of the Global Social Impact Investment Steering Group and The Portland Trust

The SDG Gap & Opportunity

UNDP is committed to continue to evolve the development landscape in innovative ways. With our global presence in 170 countries around the world working as a neutral and reputable partner, SDG Impact will not only help us push the envelope for our work to grow sustainable progress that benefits everyone, but also help investors elevate and claim their role for the global good.

We at UNDP recognize that the SDG funding gap – estimated by UNCTAD at $2.5 trillion per year  for developing countries – cannot be closed by development aid alone. It will require engagement with the private sector to help to leverage additional financing. We are seeing a trend that more and more capital is being directed towards impact-related investments, or products or services that benefit society and the environment.

In addition to the financial gap to achieve the SDGs, there is also a technical gap. Currently, there are no unifying standards, tools, and services that investors can rely on to support a process of targeting, measuring, and achieving development outcomes.

These gaps, both financial and technical, present a tremendous opportunity for us.

UNDP, through a new initiative, intends to help authenticate the contribution of SDG-aligned investment capital in the market today, and play a role towards increasing the total volume of SDG-enabling investment by encouraging participation from new actors. If we are successful, we can help meet a significant portion of the SDG funding gap.

What is SDG Impact? Why UNDP?

This evening, I would like to announce formally a new initiative at UNDP called “SDG Impact.” We hope that SDG Impact will empower investors and businesses with the clarity, insights, and tools required to support and authenticate their contributions to achieving the SDGs.  

We all know that achieving the SDGs will create a world that is more sustainable, equitable, and ultimately more prosperous. In order to get there, investors must adapt and transform their strategies to deliver not only financial results, but social and environmental ones as well.  

UNDP’s Country Offices work on the frontlines, partnering with governments and local organizations in 170 countries to create solutions to development challenges. By leveraging its global network and local knowledge base, UNDP is well situated to collaborate with private sector investing to make meaningful progress on the SDGs. We want to work on the frontlines to develop unifying frameworks and standards for what it means to be not only SDG-aligned but SDG-enabling.

SDG Impact Offerings

Some of you may be wondering: what exactly does SDG Impact offer that hasn’t been offered before? There are three areas of products we are developing specifically for investors to eliminate barriers to SDG-enabling investments, including: impact management, impact intelligence, and impact facilitation.

Impact management

Impact management encompasses the principles, frameworks, and standards to help investors channel capital toward SDG achievement. On this front, I’m pleased to announce a new partnership with the Impact Management Project, which we will formalize today through the signing of an MoU in just a few minutes.

The Impact Management Project is a collaborative effort by over 1000 organizations, from different disciplines and geographies, to agree on shared fundamentals for how we talk about, measure, and manage impact. In partnership with the Impact Management Project and a structured network (which includes organizations such as the International Finance Corporation, the Principles for Responsible Investment, the Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, and the United Nations Global Compact and others), we will establish SDG impact management standards.

Building upon these SDG Impact standards, we will develop a SDG Impact Seal and Certification Training program through which we expect investors and enterprises will be able to authenticate their alignment with the SDGs.

Impact intelligence

In another conversation, a global asset manager said, “When we go into a country looking for SDG-aligned investment, we don’t necessarily know whether it’s possible or whether the government is prepared to work with us.” Our impact intelligence offering will provide investors insight into local industries, entrepreneurs, and projects that advance the SDGs.

Impact facilitation

Finally, impact facilitation involves leveraging UNDP’s in-country presence for network development and matchmaking between investors and enterprises working to achieve SDGs.

SDG Impact Investor Convenings will be the forum to build much-needed cross-sector connections with a focus on identifying and creating investment opportunities.

Also, the establishment of the SDG Accelerator in Istanbul will support enterprises and start-ups to align their businesses with the SDGs, and as a result, will help them better position themselves to impact investors.
Concluding Remarks

Today’s “soft launch” of SDG Impact marks the beginning of much work to be done. We are thoughtfully prototyping our products in consultation with various stakeholders including the UN development system, partners, and investors. We will continue to collaborate with them as we begin to pilot the products to investors.  

Today’s announcement also marks the launch of our preliminary website where you can learn more. I encourage you all to visit, which is included on the printed material you received tonight.

I will now ask Sir Cohen to join me in signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNDP and the Impact Management Project.

Before passing the microphone to Minister Çavuşoğlu, I would like to say, once again, how grateful UNDP is to partner with the Government of Turkey to launch the SDG Impact Accelerator.

Thank you to all. I turn over to you, Minister Çavuşoğlu.