What are the UN's Sustainable Development Goals?
What are the UN's Sustainable Development Goals?
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are a ‘blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’. The UN describes them as a ‘call for action’ to ‘promote prosperity while protecting the planet’.
Read on for what the 17 goals are and what Schroders’ Global Head of Sustainable Investment has to say about them.
Where did the SDGs come from and what are they for?
They were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to address global challenges. They were developed from the Millennium Development Goals.
Andrew Howard explains: ‘It is important to recognise that the global challenges described by the SDGs have been building up over several decades. The SDGs are a framework to guide ideas and innovation towards tackling those challenges.’
What are they?
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality education
- Gender equality
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace, justice and strong institutions
- Partnerships for the goals
What are the targets and indicators?
Each of the SDGs has around 8–12 targets so there are more than 150 in total. They range from ‘enhancing the use of enabling technology... to promote the empowerment of all women and girls’ to increasing ‘substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix’.
These targets have specific indicators to measure progress, of which there are more than 200. For example, to measure progress against the target to reduce global maternal mortality, the global maternal mortality ratio is an indicator.
Are we on track to meet the goals by 2030?
The UN’s own progress report for 2020 has warned: ‘The 17 SDGs demand nothing short of a
transformation of the financial, economic and political systems that govern our societies today’. It described this as a ‘critical period’.
The pandemic led to a 7% increase in extreme poverty, with an additional 37 million people living on under $1.90 per day, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates’ fourth Goalkeepers report, launched ahead of the UN General Assembly, called for global collaboration to end the pandemic and get the SDGs on track.
Gates said: ‘The importance of the goals, if anything, is reinforced by the pandemic. After all, the pandemic has in almost every dimension made inequity worse.’
How are the UN SDGs relevant to investment?
It is often said that investors big and small have a part to play in meeting these global goals.
Andrew Howard, Schroders’ Global Head of Sustainable Investment, explains: ‘While originally intended for governments and policymakers, the SDGs have evolved into a universally recognised framework, being used by both the public and private sectors. Both play a key role in developing solutions.
‘As investors, the SDGs help us understand where to deploy capital and how to ensure the capital we deploy
How else have investment firms developed their use of the UN SDGs?
Andrew Howard says: ‘The SDGs can also offer a way of understanding how investments align to an investor’s personal values. A wide array of solutions appeared over the last five years in the form of SDG-focused funds and measurement and reporting tools.
‘However, it can be difficult to pick out which solutions offer new ways of thinking with meaningful outcomes vs. products and tools that have simply been rebranded without much fundamental change.’
He adds: In the face of this challenge, we are developing a proprietary framework that aims to fill this gap. It will sit alongside our suite of investment tools including SustainEx, our proprietary tool to measure impact.’
So, in summary, investors can help progress the SDGs by investing in companies that are positively contributing to them?
Not only that. As owners of companies, investors have a voice – a unique opportunity to hold them to account and encourage them towards more sustainable business practices.
Andrew Howard explains: ‘If we are to drive positive change, investment alone is not enough. Engagement is a critical component of an investor’s success in achieving positive, meaningful outcomes for society.’
Important Information: The views and opinions contained herein are those of the author, and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Aspect8 communications, strategies or funds. This material is intended to be for information purposes only and is not intended as promotional material in any respect. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in this document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested. All investments involve risks including the risk of possible loss of principal. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Aspect8 does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in this document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. Some information quoted was obtained from external sources we consider to be reliable. No responsibility can be accepted for errors of fact obtained from third parties, and this data may change with market conditions. This does not exclude any duty or liability that Aspect8 has to its customers under any regulatory system. FTSE: FTSE International Limited (‘FTSE’) © FTSE 2016. ‘FTSE®’ is a trademark of London Stock Exchange Plc and The Financial Times Limited and is used by FTSE International Limited under licence. All rights in the FTSE indices and/or FTSE ratings vest in FTSE and/or its licensors. Neither FTSE nor its licensors accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the FTSE indices and/or FTSE ratings or underlying data. No further distribution of FTSE Data is permitted without FTSE’s express written consent. Regions/sectors shown for illustrative purposes only and should not be viewed as a recommendation to buy/sell. This content is issued by Aspect8 Limited, registered address: Holmwood, House, Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4QP, number 07572431. Aspect8 Limited is a member of Best Practice IFA Group Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FCA No. 227247.