As the global population approaches nine billion people, today’s world is one of increasing needs, decreasing natural resources, and rapid technological change.
In September 2015, the UN General Assembly formally established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be addressed by 2030, which effectively provide a common framework for public and private stakeholders to set their agendas and define their policies and strategies over the next 15 years.
$5-7 trillion a year until 2030 are needed to realise the SDGs worldwide, including investments into infrastructure, clean energy, water and sanitation and agriculture. The greater part of the necessary financing and investment will need to stem from private finance.
While a wide range of sustainable finance products and services are available in the market, these mobilise limited funds compared to what is needed and for a limited number of things – based on a pre-identification of acceptable sectors and activities. Hindered by often unattractive risk and return profiles, to-date the amount of private finance mobilised to achieve the SDGs remains in marked contrast to the scale of the needs.
|The Positive Impact initiative
In October 2015 a group of banks and investors released the Positive Impact Manifesto, which calls for a new financing paradigm. As per the Manifesto, bridging the funding gap for sustainable development and the attainment of the SDGs requires a new, impact-based approach, based on a holistic consideration of the three pillars of sustainable development.
The Manifesto outlines a Positive Impact Roadmap towards to the achievement of SDG financing, which focuses on two core needs:
- A common framework to help the finance community and a broader set of public and private stakeholders identify, assess and promote positive impact activities, entities and projects.
- A collaborative, solution-building approach to developing and implementing new business models and financing approaches that will help address the SDG funding gap and realize the SDGs themselves.
Following the launch of the Principles the members of the initiative have defined a strategy and a common workplan organised around four working groups whose role it will be to develop implementation guidance and engagement tools for financial institutions to apply a positive impact approach.
As at September 12th 2017, the Positive Impact initiative is made up of the following UNEP FI members: ABN AMRO, Australian Ethical, Aviva, BNP Paribas, BMCE Bank of Africa, Caisse des Dépôts Group, Desjardins Group, First Rand, Hermes Investment Management, ING, Itaú Unibanco, Mirova, NAB, NedBank, Pax World, Piraeus Bank, SEB, Société Générale, Standard Bank, Tawreeq Holdings, Triodos Bank, Westpac and YES Bank.
How to become involved
Participation in the Positive Impact initiative is open to all UNEP FI members that are actively seeking to understand and promote the positive impact of their portfolios on the economy, society and the environment via dedicated strategies, frameworks and business activities.
Non UNEP FI members, including all relevant stakeholders such as auditors, extra-financial raters and research providers, raters, corporates, public entities, NGOs, and academic institutions, can also become actively involved in the Initiative, as supporters.
Both member and supporter status imply a public endorsement of the Positive Impact Manifesto and the Principles for Positive Impact Finance.
The strategic direction and activities of the initiative are overseen by a Steering Group, currently made up the founding members of the initiative. These are:
- Denis Childs, Head of Environmental and Social Advisory and Positive Impact Finance, Société Générale
- Hervé Guez, Head of SRI Research, Mirova
- Leonie Schreve, Head of Sustainable Lending, ING
- James Vaccaro, Head of Corporate Strategy, Triodos Bank
The Steering Group is supported by the following members of the UNEP FI Secretariat: Careen Abb, Elodie Feller, Sabina Timco and Elisa Vacherand.
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