The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a plan to help public and private actors identify and prioritise investments contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The OECD-UNDP Framework for SDG Aligned Finance, presented at the Paris Peace Forum, identifies solutions to shift the trillions of dollars available internationally towards more sustainable and resilient investments and to further mobilize investment, especially to least developed countries, small islands developing states, and developing countries.
With an expected USD 700 billion drop in external finance to developing countries this year, the financing needed to meet the Global Goals is at risk of collapse, threatening decades of progress on poverty alleviation and sustainable development. But trillions of dollars available in the financial system could be better aligned with SDGs to curb this trend, considering that the financing gap to achieve the SDGs –around USD 2.5 trillion per year– barely represents a small fraction of the global financial assets, including cash, bank deposits, bonds, stocks, etc.
“Over 379 trillion dollars of total assets are in the system held by banks, institutional investors, and asset managers. Reallocating only 1.1% could be enough to fill the growing SDG financing gap. We need harmonised policies along the investment chain to make our savings and investment work better for people and the planet and build systemic resilience,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.
Requested by France’s G7 presidency last year, the framework was informed by an expert group of individuals across the public and private sectors. It builds upon existing principles and provides an ambitious yet feasible set of complementary measures, pertaining to policies, standards, and tools, for both private actors and public authorities to deploy capital in ways that drive the greatest impact towards achieving SDGs without harming the intertwined goals.
A living document, OECD and UNDP will continue to refine the SDG Alignment Framework through ongoing dialogues in international economic and financial policymaking fora. Progress towards alignment of finance and the implementation of the framework will be updated and discussed at an annual event in Paris, as originally commissioned at the G7 development ministers meeting in 2019.
“SDG alignment is indeed the first and necessary step to put finance to work for the prosperity, peace, and wellbeing of people and planet, reduce global inequalities, and to secure the long-term value of assets otherwise challenged by recurrent systemic shocks linked to poor management of global public goods. COVID-19 has made the case for alignment even stronger, waking us up to the costs of ignoring systemic risks, the interdependence of countries in their progress towards achieving the SDGs, and the interlinkages between the SDGs. As Covid-19 exposes, failure to meet one SDG will be of detriment to the others and will affect us all,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
The framework was included as a key reference instrument in a declaration signed in Paris by 450 development banks at the Finance in Common Summit, the first global summit of Public Development Banks. The declaration affirmed banks’ willingness to collectively shift their strategies, investment patterns, and operating modalities to align with sustainable finance principles and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and the objectives of the Paris Agreement while responding to the Covid-19 crisis.
While the framework lays out the foundations for aligning the financial system to the SDGs, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, OECD, and UNDP recognized that rethinking and transforming the financial system is a collective agenda. They called for private and public communities and international finance and economic platforms (such as the G7, G20, COP26) to translate recommendations into individual community action plans.
These efforts should converge into a coherent global strategy that supports and help implementing the United Nations Secretary General’s strategy for financing the 2030 agenda, and the menu of options presented by the Financing for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond.