RESEARCH

SDGs economic opportunity: report

“The SDGs offer the greatest economic opportunity of a lifetime,” Unilever chief executive Paul Polman says in a new report from the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and PwC on why the investment community should be active in making a real-world impact through implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Polman, together with Mark Malloch-Brown, former UN deputy Secretary-General, created the Business Commission, which released research in January this year showing the delivery of the SDGs would create market opportunities of up to $12 trillion a year and up to 380 million new jobs by 2030.

“There is no business case for enduring poverty,” Polman said about the Business Commission research. “We have an opportunity to unlock trillions of dollars through new markets, investments and innovation. But to do so, we must challenge our current practices and address poverty, inequality and environmental challenges. Every business will benefit from operating in a more equitable, resilient world if we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Polman is one of many high-profile commentators quoted in a new report by PRI and PwC called The SDG investment case.

The report calls the investment community into action, stating that it should become more engaged with the SDGs not only because they are a critical part of their fiduciary duty, but also because they can be a guide to capital allocation.

Large institutional investors, which have portfolios exposed to growing and widespread economic risks, can protect their long-term financial performance by encouraging sustainable economies and markets, the report argues.

The authors explain that achieving the SDGs would be a fundamental driver of economic growth that, in the long term, would boost corporate revenues and earnings and, in turn, equities and other assets.

“A significant proportion of currently external costs, such as environmental damage or social upheaval, might at some point in the future be forced into companies’ accounts,” the report states. “The SDGs provide a clear risk framework for both companies and investors. Providing solutions to sustainability challenges offers attractive investment opportunities. Investors can implement strategies that target SDG themes and sectors, with opportunities available in most asset classes.”

Louise Scott, global sustainability director at PwC, says every investor should want to understand how to play their part in achieving the SDGs.

The full report can be accessed here :The SDG investment case