SDG Round-up, April 13: Danish legislation, Blue Orange, Figueres, Hermes, Solactive, Oekom

The latest developments in the Sustainable Development Goals

Ahead of RI’s SDG webinar series, here is a compilation of the latest SDG developments

Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reportedly announced that “all relevant aspects of new Danish legislation will be assessed in relation to the Global Goals” in reference to the Government’s national action plan for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Meanwhile, the Norwegian Government has included several contributions to the country’s achievement of SDGs in a recently published white paper on its policy for development.

BlueOrange Capital is a new mezzanine debt fund that will reportedly invest in alignment with the SDGs. Impact Alpha reported the fund, launched at the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank, aims to bring $10 in private capital for every $1 in public investment, starting with Latin America and the Caribbean. It was unveiled by Bertrand Badré, the former CFO at the World Bank and there’s a pledge to mobilize $1bn in lending in line with the goals.

The United Nations’ Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has commissioned an evaluation into the initial steps of establishing a fund to finance efforts to achieve ‘land degradation neutrality’ – an objective included in SDG target 15.3. The fund, which has received the backing of the Rockefeller Foundation, will be managed by Mirova, the Responsible Investment subsidiary of Natixis Asset Management.

The United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Swiss based development standards body, Gold Standard have announced that they will collaborate in the development of voluntary methodologies, tools, and guidance to assist organisations (such as corporates, investors, regions, territories and cities) assess the social and environmental impact of their actions in line with the SDGs.

The case for the SDGs was made recently by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, at an event at the Brookings Institution think tank. The meeting was co-hosted by the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings and the United Nations Foundation.

PwC has forecast that 41% of businesses will embed the SDGs into the way they do business within the next five-years. The accounting and corporate services firm also reports that 71% of business are already planning how they will engage with the SDGs.

News and data giant Thomson Reuters has in a recent report The Sustainability Reporter: A Deep Dive into the Challenges and Benefits of New Corporate Reporting Processes cited the SDGs, which ‘mesh’ economics, social issues, and environmental imperatives, as an area where companies increasingly look to demonstrate their commitment.Christiana Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has convened a high-level group that has identified 2020 as a “game changing opportunity” to turn the tide on the devastating impacts of carbon emissions in the context of the SDGs. The new report is a collaboration between Yale University, Carbon Tracker and Climate Action Tracker (a consortium of Ecofys, New Climate Institute and Climate Analytics), with a contribution by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Louise Dudley, Global Equities Portfolio Manager at Hermes Investment Management, has stated her belief
that the SDGs will act as ‘pull factor’ helping to align the interests of investors, companies, and society on sustainability matters.

New York-based philanthropy body Foundation Center has launched a new online platform, ‘designed to track, inform, and inspire ocean conservation philanthropy’ – which falls under the remit of SDG Goal 14: Life Below Water. Since 2009 the ocean has received less than 1% of all philanthropic funding despite covering 71% of the Earth’s surface.

Oekom Research’s Corporate Responsibility Review 2017 has cited global pressures from such initiatives as the SDGs as drivers of the ‘slight’ improvement in corporate governance practices. The ESG rating house notes mid-rated firms as having seen the most noticeable improvement but states that most companies have lots of work to do.

Frankfurt based index provider Solactive AG has teamed up with Dutch gender equality advocacy group Equileap to launch a family of three gender equality indices offering investors with different geographic exposures access to the same methodology. Gender equality is SDG 5. The three indices consist of: Solactive Equileap Europe Gender Equality Index, Solactive Equileap US Gender Equality Index, and Solactive Equileap Global Gender Equality Index.

The Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership, which is comprised of The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), has launched the SDG Data Portal, which shows the status and progress the 58 countries in the region are making towards the 17 goals.

The 19th Commonwealth Forestry Conference in India this month and the 5th Mediterranean Forest Week in March in Morocco saw countries from the Commonwealth and Mediterranean respectively and other stakeholders gather and commit to promoting sustainable forestry management and supporting forest-related development goals, including the targets laid out in SDG 15: Life on land.