United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and top business leaders on Wednesday agreed on the steps to scale up investment in sustainable development.
Meeting virtually with leaders of prominent financial institutions and businesses, the UN secretary-general called the private sector "more important than ever," as the world struggles to recover from the devastating economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The timely achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is at serious risk. To reverse our course, a fundamental change of financing and investment is needed to place sustainability at the core of the global economic and financial system," Guterres said. "Private sector leadership will be more important than ever."
The Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) Alliance was launched a year ago by the secretary-general. Members, who control assets worth 16 trillion U.S. dollars, are committed to deliver on key strategies that will scale-up sustainable investments globally. They have agreed on a range of actions to better align business activities with the SDGs.
These include: developing platforms to catalyze finance and investment flows to developing countries in support of the SDGs; creating a clear and unified set of information for investors on how companies are performing on sustainability criteria; incentivizing financial institutions and corporations to take a longer term, sustainable approach to their investments; and coordinating GISD actions with major policy making groups (like the G20) and financial system bodies to ensure that its recommendations are included in their priorities.
"The GISD Alliance has taken important initial steps to achieve its mission," said alliance co-chair and CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Leila Fourie. "It is now more important than ever that we move toward the phase of implementation, starting with the key deliverables we have outlined today."
Among the achievements of the GISD Alliance's first year was the report Renewed, Recharged, and Reinforced: Urgent actions to harmonize and scale sustainable finance, which was submitted to the European Commission's sustainable finance consultation. The report made more than 60 recommendations for global action to scale-up investment in sustainable development.
The alliance this year also developed a unified definition of Sustainable Development Investing (SDI) and released the first of its kind Call to Action for COVID-19 bonds, which was endorsed by the International Capital Markets Association. The statement was developed jointly by investors and underwriters to support high-priority activities that combat the negative impacts of COVID-19 on public health, livelihoods and economic wellbeing.
In October 2019, the UN chief established the GISD Alliance as part of the implementation of his Strategy for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The group of CEOs is charged with harnessing the insights of private sector leaders to remove impediments and implement solutions for scaling up long-term investment for sustainable development. Members include asset owners, asset managers, and non-financial corporations from around the globe.