Volume 01 | September 30 2020
Director's Note
Greetings, and welcome to the first issue of the @SDGImpact newsletter!

When Achim Steiner, the UNDP Administrator, launched SDG Impact on the margins of the UN General Assembly in 2018, private-sector enthusiasm for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was strong and growing. During the past six months, as shockwaves from COVID-19 have reverberated through communities and markets, we have seen a tipping point. The first pandemic in modern history is raising the stakes in the ambition to achieve the SDGs, as the need to do so has become undeniable. 

The focus is not on whether to engage with the SDGs, but how. The groundwork laid by SDG Impact positions UNDP to be a highly responsive and competitively neutral partner for guiding investors and companies on how to engage with the global goals. UNDP is the integrator of the SDGs. We connect through more than 170 country offices and regional networks that link people with policy, and projects with funding and finance. 

We see the urgency, scale and complexity of the issues facing the world—and the uneven effects of the pandemic. We will need to mobilize multiples of current capital commitments and connect them with solutions for communities in need, particularly the most vulnerable. We also see the barriers for investors; we know that the practical guidance and tools to inform effective decisions are lacking. 

In this newsletter, you’ll read how our market intelligence is unlocking data not previously available to markets to identify investment opportunities at scale. You’ll also see how we’ve taken up the call to action from the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance convened by the UN Secretary General to set the world’s most pro-capital formation and progressive investment standards for impact investment, climate-resilient investment and SDG-positive investment[1] with the new SDG Impact Standards. 

Please forward this newsletter to people who would like to get involved, point friends and colleagues to the SDG Impact tools, which are public goods for everyone to access and use.

Our collective opportunity at this moment is to tackle the social and economic upheaval head on. We must bake into the recovery a clear focus on sustainable development and achieving the SDGs by 2030. By doing so, we will live up to the aspiration of the SDGs themselves: to integrate economic, social and environmental aspects and recognize their interlinkages in achieving sustainable development in all its dimensions.[2]


Elizabeth Boggs Davidsen

[1] GISD, Renewed, Recharged and Reinforced: Urgent actions to harmonize and scale sustainable finance, report of the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance to the European Commission, July 2020. Accessed September 26, 2020.
SDG Impact on the Fast Track (Facilitation)
One of our strongest assets is our ability to convene investors and policymakers in SDG Impact Facilitation events, which help to match capital and SDG-related needs (example: food safety) with investment vehicles or business ideas (example: renewable-powered refrigerated silos).

When the pandemic struck, we were concerned that travel restrictions would impede these events. We mobilized to design a blueprint for virtual facilitation events, which we will soon offer on Zoom.

Our first virtual facilitation event will be held in India in November. The SDG Investor Map for India was developed in partnership with Invest India, the national investment promotion and facilitation agency under the Department for the Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Government of India, and the UNDP India Country Office are working together to prepare for the event.

Other countries planning facilitation events in the fall include Nigeria, Ghana and Jordan.
SDG Impact Intelligence
SDG Facilitation events help to guide implementation of SDG Investor Maps. They define viable investment opportunities for the private sector to create positive social, environmental, and economic impact. Maps can accelerate SDG-aligned investments at scale and also help to mobilize private sector resources for COVID response and recovery. UNDP country offices—many of which have funding from the newly launched Recovery Financing Facility—have finalized investor maps for four countries. In 10 additional nations, more are in the final stages of development.

By the end of 2020, we aim to finish 15 Maps. Another 25 UNDP Country Offices will create them in 2021. Demand is there, and UNDP regions are working to strengthen their capacity to deliver quantity and quality.

The UNDP Turkey, India, Colombia, China and Armenia Country Offices have helped us record a four-module virtual training on producing SDG Investor Maps. The training is completed, edited, and available to offices that are collaborating with us. Those that have participated will serve as specialized trainers for the next offices planning to create Maps. This will help to ensure quality and follow-up.

We are also making headway toward bringing SDG Investor Maps to your desktop through a dynamic online platform. This SDG Global Investment Platform will empower users to filter information in the Maps so that they can generate their own investment and business ideas. We plan to have the beta version of the platform live this fall. 
SDG Impact Management
Organizations are beginning to apply the SDG Impact Standards to their impact-management practices. If you are one of them, we’d love to hear from you!

Your constructive feedback is enabling us to ensure that each version of the Standards enhances their value to the market. This drives us closer to the ultimate goal of increasing investment in helping to fulfill the SDGs.

We were delighted with the positive feedback from the public-consultation process over the summer. Some commenters noted that the Standards will “help combat rainbow-washing,” “inform better decision-making,” and “encourage meaningful stakeholder engagement.” Stay tuned for reports summarizing the feedback received for the Standards for Private Equity Funds and Bonds.

Watch also for the imminent release of the SDG Impact Standards for Private Equity Funds, which will be released next week. To kick off the implementation of these Standards, we are organizing a working group of 20+ Private Equity Funds, who will apply the Standards and provide feedback to support our development of further guidance and our assurance process. We are also preparing to release of the next iteration of the SDG Impact Standards for Bonds and the first draft of the Enterprise Standards. Both are expected to be available for public comment later this fall.

One of our strategic goals is also to support the implementation of the Standards. UNDP is partnering with the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University to develop an online course that will do just that. Now under development with an advisory group of faculty members from 12 universities across six continents, the course is expected to launch in late 2021.
SDG Impact in the News
In addition to initiating this newsletter, we have started to engage on Twitter via @SDGImpact (follow us!), with agencies across the UN Family as well as with our Steering Group members and their firms. The purpose of our social media engagement is to drive more conversation and momentum toward conversations with our team to enhance Standards-setting, certification and verification activities—as well as to invite dialogue with investors of all kinds, worldwide.

In coming months, we plan to do a series of blogs and opinion pieces in collaboration with Steering Group members and other thought leaders in the impact-investment space. We will also begin reporting from the field on the ways SDG Impact investing is building new economic and social opportunities that will put us on a firm path to achieving the goals.