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SDG Briefing: The latest news and research on the Goals

Updates from WWF, M&G, Rabobank and more

WWF has called on the EU to take its commitments to the SDGs more seriously by establishing an advisory body on their implementation and developing “wellbeing indicators” to guide decision making and track the performance of Member States on wellbeing and sustainable development. The European Commission set up an SDG Multi-stakeholder platform back in 2017, including Rabobank’s CEO Wiebe Draijer and Axa Group’s former Head of Regulation, Sustainability and Insurance Foresight, Christian Thimann. The group was created to “provide a forum for exchange of best practice at local, regional, national and EU level,” but the Commission’s has no meetings recorded for it. The WWF report focuses on achieving a fair and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The World Economic Forum has launched “a set of universal ESG metrics and disclosures” which is says “will help companies align on non-financial aspects of business performance to demonstrate long-term value creation and their contributions to the SDGs”. The report was done in partnership with EY, PwC, Deloitte and KPMG.

The UN Global Compact CFO Taskforce, a network of Chief Financial Officers created to support sustainability, has launched UN-backed Principles for Integrated SDG Finance and Investment. The principles are a guide for firms wanting to “align their sustainability commitments with credible corporate finance strategies to create real-world impact on the SDGs”. The group identified four areas that need to be boosted to support SDG-aligned investing: impact measure, integrated SDG strategies, integrated SDG finance strategies, and integrated SDG reporting. “The goal is to work with the investment value chain, including investors, banks, development finance institutions, credit ratings agencies and sustainability assessment firms to create a broad, liquid and efficient market for SDG investments and capital flows,” said the Taskforce in a statement.

Progress on 10 of the 17 SDGs has been hindered by COVID-19, according to a report published this week by asset manager M&G. The report found that socio-economic goals have been most affected, with the first increase in extreme poverty in decades as a result of the crisis. However, some of the Goals, including Affordable & Clean Energy, and Sustainable Cities & Communities, were boosted by the pandemic.

Rabobank has issued a $1bn green bond under a new Sustainable Funding Framework, marking its largest ESG bond to date and its first in USD. In alignment with the framework, which allows Rabobank to be more specific about how it will use proceeds in individual deals, the notes will be allocated to a loan book of new and existing renewable energy projects, contributing to SDG7 (clean and affordable energy) and SDG13 (climate action). The 6-year senior notes offered a coupon of 1.004%, equivalent to a spread of 73 basis points over US Treasuries.   

The United Mexican States launched a bond to finance the SDGs last week, in the first ever SDG-labelled sovereign deal. The 7-year, $890m transaction was launched to help support Goals linked to agriculture & rural development, health, education, working conditions, transportation & communications. Demand from investors was more than six-times the offering and 267 firms participated in the transaction. 

Data provider RepRisk is preparing to roll out an SDG assessment across all its existing services. The new features will identify companies that could hinder progress on each goal. It is scheduled to be up and running in coming months.