Investors key to achieving SDGs

5th May 2016


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Institutional investors have a critical role to play in achieving the 17 UN sustainable development goals, according to a report from Share Action.

The charity surveyed 52 institutional investors with more than £4trn assets under management. Fully 95% said they would engage with companies about issues covered by the sustainable development goals (SDGs), while 84% reported that they would allocate capital to investments that assist in achieving them. Some 89% said they would support regulatory reforms that promoted the SDGs.

The research also found that three-quarters of investors were taking action already in support of at least three of the SDGs. Many also viewed the goals as being consistent with their investment objectives. Almost two-thirds (65%) said supporting the SDGs was consistent with their fiduciary duty and 62% said doing so offered opportunities to increase returns.

The UN published the goals in September, which range from ending poverty to protecting ecosystems. Share Action found that goals eight, nine and 13 – promoting decent work and economic growth, building industry, innovation and infrastructure, and taking action to curb climate change – were considered by respondents to have the greatest potential to meet their long-term investment objectives. Some 78% reported taking action on the climate change SDG, which, together with goal six on sustainable water management, were associated with material risk by investors.

Barriers to investors supporting the SDGs include the lack of information on companies’ social and environmental impacts. Share Action recommends the development of tools and frameworks for investors to link their investment objectives with the goals, and action to improve company reporting.

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