From millions to billions: measuring impact on the global goals

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12 October 2017

Imagine getting countries to agree on 17 goals with 169 targets for making the world a better place. Now imagine agreeing on a way to measure it all.

Singing duo Mafikizolo raised a flag to represent Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa, to support the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Credit: Nicki Priem

Singing duo Mafikizolo raised a flag to represent Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa, to support the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Credit: Nicki Priem

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, outline goals for issues like poverty, hunger, health and education. To achieve these goals by the deadline of 2030, a lot of funding is needed.

Companies need to step up their investments in the SDGs. But measurement is a problem, as it is difficult to determine how much positive impact the investments actually have on the SDGs. How many people receive education services? How many tonnes of CO2 equivalent can be avoided by a renewable project?

Now, a new report outlines ways financial institutions can measure how their investments or loans contribute to the SDGs. The ultimate aim of the report is to scale up these investments and loans from millions to billions.

The report is a starting point. It proposes a set of indicators per SDG that will help harmonise the way companies report their impact. For example, the percentage of women in the workforce, or number of jobs created in low-income areas or among disadvantaged groups including minorities and refugees. The indicators aren’t binding or comprehensive (there can be additional indicators than these), and they are flexible.

Having a common set of impact indicators will help both companies and investors. Companies can improve their impact reporting, while investors can better monitor, manage and communicate their contribution to the SDGs.

The report is the result of a joint effort by Dutch financial institutions and companies who belong to the SDG Impact Measurement working group within the Sustainable Finance Platform.

The SDG Impact Measurement working group consists of a large number of financial institutions and companies. Member of the working group are PGGM, ABN Amro, Achmea, ACTIAM, ASN, ASR Netherlands, APG, DNB, FMO, ING, Philips, Kempen, Van Lanschot, MN, NN Group, Rabobank, Robeco, TKP Investments, Triodos, Unilever, Unilever Pension Fund.

The Sustainable Finance Platform

The Sustainable Finance Platform is a cooperative venture of The Dutch Central Bank (chair), the Dutch Banking Association, the Dutch Association of Insurers, the Federation of the Dutch Pension Funds, the Dutch Fund and Asset Management Association, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, and the Sustainable Finance Lab. The aim of this platform, set up in 2016, is to promote and encourage a dialogue on sustainable finance in the financial sector.

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