United Nations network signs landmark impact investing agreement

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) have agreed a joint plan to focus capital and solutions towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

GSG will work in tandem with SDG Impact, a UNDP initiative that accelerates progress towards the SDGs through adoption of global SDG Assurance Standards that provide guidance on how investors and enterprises contribute to the SDGs.

In addition, the initiative has developed new ‘SDG Investor Maps’ that translate country-level data collected by the UN system into investment facing opportunities. 

The announcement of the partnership was made last week at the GSG Summit in Buenos Aires.

“UNDP and GSG pledge joint working to unlock billions of dollars for people and the planet,” said Ulrika Modéer (pictured above), UNDP assistant administrator and director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy.

“Our new partnership with the GSG will help connect key market players, provide needed clarity and tools to catalyse capital investment flows to the Sustainable Development Goals and unlock billions of dollars for the benefit of people and the planet.”  

“This agreement will make it possible to scale and spread impact programmes that can attract impact investment to provide the missing $30tn of funding” 

The collaboration will include:

  • Sharing UNDP SDG Investor Maps to attract additional private capital;
  • Encouraging SDG Impact Assurance Standards to be a bridge between principles frameworks already in place and performance reporting and benchmarking;
  • Collaboration on events including investor meetings;
  • Educating policymakers on impact investment;
  • Government-level engagement and support for future national advisory boards, with UNDP SDG Impact and UNDP country offices;
  • Continued engagement with the G7/G20 and other supranational bodies such as the African Union and ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

The first set of standards, for private equity funds, has already been published, and SDG assurance standards for bond issuance and for businesses are due in December 2019 and February 2020. Investors and companies that meet these assurance standards will be able to seek certification and a 'unique seal' to demonstrate their compliance.

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. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, it offers “global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations”. 

UNDP is assuming a key role in aiding the definition and measurement of impact investment, while ensuring that claims of SDG contributions can be validated. Moreover, UNDP is looking to the private sector for finance and capital. SDG Impact Assurance Standards are providing guidelines to help investors make more informed decisions about how to confidently allocate capital towards the SDGs.

Chair of the GSG Sir Ronald Cohen (also pictured above) said: “GSG is driving the growth of the impact investing movement across the world, with advisory boards in 32 countries and the EU. These boards drive impact policy-making and catalyse local initiatives to improve lives and the environment. This agreement with UNDP will make it possible to scale and spread impact programmes that can attract impact investment to provide the missing $30tn of funding necessary for the achievement of the SDGs.”