LET’S TALK UNGA
With New York City traffic thoroughly gridlocked and Trump protestors out in force, U.N. Week is in full swing on the east side of Manhattan. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has brought together the who’s-who of global development, eagerly looking for lucrative opportunities to save the world, whilst Climate Week has been a stark reminder of everything we’re not doing to reduce carbon emissions. The week is framed around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide the basis for a global call to action on 17 development categories which have been kindly packaged into manageable, trackable outcomes by the UN. Launched in 2016, these 17 SDGs provide a framework through which investors, asset managers, development agencies, governments and everyday people can begin to think about what needs to be done, and where to focus their energy. Similarly, the SDGs are a way for traditional investors to talk about impact in its most basic categories. With a strong focus on enabling the transition of public and private capital into these goals, the UNDP launched a new initiative yesterday called SDG Impact, designed to provide investors and businesses with country-level data, and navigate the risks and opportunities that come with SDGs.
Beyond allowing everyone to prioritize, the SDGs are also designed to inspire alignment and collaboration at every level, from countries, to companies, to individuals. Need better infrastructure (SDG 9)? China just pledged $30bn billion to build out Haitian infrastructure through an extension of their Silk Road initiative. Need better land management (SDG 15)? Mirova has raised $120 million towards their Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, providing long-term financing to sustainable land-use projects. Need better healthcare (SDG 3)? Private-equity (and now impact) giant KKR is jostling to take over the stranded $1 billion Abraaj health fund. Need better water (SDG 6 & 14)? Swedish investors have been quick off the mark in supporting a $110 million ocean bond, part of a $3 billion bond initiative by the World Bank to invest in clean water, sustainable water management and ocean protection.
But with this global move towards SDG alignment comes an inevitable wave of SDG-washing, where it’s now all too easy for firms to claim a goal, with no quantifiable effort towards actually achieving anything. The World Benchmarking Alliance was also launched this week by the United Nations Foundation, the Index Initiative, a Dutch non-profit and Aviva, a British multinational insurance company, with the aim of increasing transparency and accountability around the SDGs, and hoping to spark authentic competition in achieving them.
Hayley Mole, Associate
Yesterday, the UN Capital Development Fund launched a Sustainable Development Goals Global Equity ETF (NYSE: SDGA), allowing investors to invest alongside companies that are deploying capital to help achieve the SDGs and address the estimated $2.5 trillion annual funding gap.
The International Publishers Association and UN’s Outreach Division joined hands for the Sustainable Development Goals Book Club, the “SDG Book Club,” for young readers- curating books correlating with the SDGs over the next 17 months. Start ’em young!
If you’re trying to find your way around Manhattan today, Waze can help make that quick detour into a back alley. Personally, we prefer walking or citibiking.
This newsletter is intended solely for informational purposes, and should not be construed as investment/trading advice and are not meant to be a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any securities mentioned. Any reproduction or distribution of this document, in whole or in part, or the disclosure of its contents, without the prior written consent of Flat World Partners is prohibited