Supporting the UN sustainable development goals

What are the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs)?

In September 2015, the United Nations launched the SDGs. These comprise 17 goals (with 169 underlying targets) that member states are expected to use to frame their policies in order to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all” by 2030. Almost five years after the adoption of the goals, global efforts to achieve them are off-track. World leaders are calling for bold leadership this decade to achieve the goals.

Investment supporting the SDGs

Greenbank’s approach to responsible investment has long recognised many of the challenges encompassed in the SDGs and the ways in which companies can meet them. The investment portfolios we manage contain companies with a broad range of positive aspects. Some are directly supporting the delivery of one or more of the SDGs through the products and services they provide and others display leading practice in managing their own social and environmental impacts. Across all Greenbank’s assets under management, approximately 40% is invested in companies directly offering solutions to sustainable development challenges. Within this, themes include climate change (11.5%), healthcare access (3.1%) and resource scarcity (3.6%).

Engagement supporting the SDGs

Engagement plays an important role in the positive impact of investment portfolios. Divestment can be a very powerful tool in highlighting the importance of an issue and in some cases is an appropriate response to concerns about a company’s ethical or financial performance. But engagement, analysis and ongoing dialogue with companies is also essential to create systemic change. Our engagement with companies and policymakers over the last 20 years has helped to advance the aims of a number of SDGs.

How do the SDGs map to our investment themes?

Health and wellbeing
Sub-themes: Healthcare access; access to nutrition; safety and protection; sports and leisure
Example areas of investment: Healthy foods; reducing food waste through the value chain; prevention and treatment of mental health issues

Energy and climate
Sub-themes: Climate action; energy security; operational alignment (climate and environmental management)
Example areas of investment: Mitigation technologies; alternative energy and fuels; renewable or low-carbon energy development

Habitats and ecosystems
Sub-themes: Life on water; life on land; operational alignment (farm animal welfare)
Example areas of investment: Sustainable aquaculture & fisheries; habitat restoration; non-intensive farming methods

Resource efficiency
Sub-themes: Sustainable consumption, circular economy, water security; operational alignment (resource efficiency)
Example areas of investment: Sustainable resource management; more efficient industrial processes; stormwater management

Inclusive economies
Sub-themes: Basic needs; training and education; inclusive economies
Example areas of investment: Social and affordable housing; water and sanitation services; educational products and services

Decent work
Sub-themes: Decent work; operational alignment (employment); operational alignment (responsible sourcing)
Example areas of investment: Job creation & economic development; support for entrepreneurship and SMEs

Resilient institutions
Sub-themes: Participation & governance; operational alignment (human rights)
Example areas of investment: Knowledge sharing & community formation; privacy & freedom of expression

Innovation and infrastructure
Sub-themes: Supporting environmental sustainability; supporting human wellbeing
Example areas of investment: Zero/low emission transport; environmental consultancy and sustainable town planning