Africa: Business leaders offer bold solutions to unlock long-term investment in the SDGs

Top business leaders joined the UN chief on Wednesday to showcase transformative solutions to close the estimated $4.3 trillion financing gap for countries to meet the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2030 – the globally agreed roadmap for a more peaceful and inclusive world.

The fourth annual meeting of the Global Investors Alliance for Sustainable Development (GISD) focuses on supporting developing countries on their path to achieving the SDGs, and it was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York amid a deteriorating global economic outlook caused by the war in Ukraine, climate change and COVID-19 – which threaten all long-term investments, according to a press release issued by GISD.

‘No time to waste’

The large and persistent financing gap for the SDGs must stimulate our collective effort increase private finance and investment for the SDGs. There’s no time to lose. We cannot afford the SDGs to be out of reach“said UN Secretary General António Guterres.

The GISD Alliance – convened by the Secretary-General in 2019 – is made up of prominent business leaders from around the world, including the heads of Standard Chartered, Pimco, Citibank and Investec.

Financial boost

It aims to align, increase and accelerate financing and investment for the 17 goals. The GISD Alliance is led by Co-Chairs Leila Fourie, Managing Director of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and José Viñals, Chairman of the Standard Chartered Group.

“Over the past year, building on the critical work done in previous years, the GISD Alliance has focused on setting the conditions for the increase in long-term private finance for investments in sustainable development (SDI),” Ms. Fourie said.

“This has been accomplished through the development of a credible definition of SDI, metrics aligned with the SDGs, model terms of reference to assist in the development of SDI strategies, contribution to developing a set of global sustainability reporting standards and a roadmap for needed MDB reforms.”

New initiatives

Mr. Viñals said that over the next 12 months, the Alliance “will continue to intensify these efforts and embark on new initiatives, launching a transformational blended finance platform that will enable co-investment in sustainable infrastructure projects.

“We will also continue our engagement with global stakeholders to advance the reforms needed to unlock finance and investment for sustainable development in support of the SDGs.”

To facilitate the flow of investment to developing countries, the Alliance advocates for more effective mobilization of private capital by multilateral development banks and the wider international development system.

GISD members made recommendations on changes in governance and business models of development banks and on improving financial structures.

New standards

Since its launch, the Alliance has developed standards and tools to align investment portfolios with the SDGs, including a unified definition of investing in sustainable development (SDI) and sector-specific SDG-aligned metrics that strengthen reporting and enable credible comparison of SDG performance. within and between different industries.

GISD highlighted the case of Aware Super, an Australia-based pension fund with A$150 billion in assets, which has now incorporated the definition of SDI as part of its investment due diligence.

More recently, in collaboration with the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), the Alliance launched the Mandate Model, which provides guidance on contractual relationships between asset owners and asset managers, putting the emphasis on encouraging long-term investments aligned with the SDGs.

Co-invest for the future

The GISD Alliance has also submitted a collective response to the International Sustainability Standards Board’s public consultation, established at COP26, to develop a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability information for capital markets.

In addition, the GISD Alliance is set to launch the Sustainable Infrastructure Investment Platform (SIIP) which will allow several multilateral development banks and institutional investors to co-invest in SDG-aligned infrastructure and increase investments in emerging markets.

The UN chief convened the Alliance to find solutions to mobilize investment in the SDGs as part of the implementation of his Financing Strategy for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Members control assets worth $16 trillion.

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