Beyond the Lapel Pin

    This comment is the editorial note introducing the NordSIP Insights – Handbook – “Investing Along the 17 Shades of SDGs”.

    As I often roam the premises of international conferences on sustainable investment and impact, I have started noticing an increasing number of delegates wearing a lapel pin in the shape of the SDG wheel. So much so that I wanted one for myself, feeling that without it, I might look like an outsider.

    These pins, I soon found out, sell on the UN DP website for as little as $7.99 or, more locally, on the Swedish UN site for 55 Swedish kronor. Hence being part of the club is relatively cheap. But what then? What does it mean to support the SDGs and wearing the colourful pin?

    Most investors like the framework, they easily admit, because it isn’t hard to relate to. Before they were rebranded into the SDGs, the Millenial Goals existed for about 15 years already but never made it into the mainstream investors’ radar screen. Perhaps they lacked the tangibility that the new set of seventeen goals seems to offer.
    So now they are appealing, but how do investors use them? Do they have concrete progress to report or is it all SDG-washing, like the detractors like to cry out? We went to find out.

    On the one hand, we encountered managers that endeavour to integrate the goals as a framework to measure their overall impact. Perhaps the investment strategy hasn’t changed, because they already aimed at generating positive impact before the SDGs came along. The opportunity lies in the ability to demonstrate the impact more clearly and thereby attract more capital into their investment vehicle.

    Other strategies are specifically designed to address targeted themes, which relate to one or more goals. We examined with them how their investments may help contribute to closing the funding gap required to reach the SDGs.

    Finally, we also looked at the current efforts led by Dutch pension manager PPGM which, among others, are supporting the the Impact Management Project, in an attempt to set up an SDG-related standard to report the impact generated by targeted investments.
    Investing along the SDGs is clearly still a work in progress. We hope that this collection of articles will inspire more actors to join in and, with or without lapel pin, to support this relatable set of goals.

    Read this edition of NordSIP Insights – Investing Along the 17 Shades of SDGs

    Aline Reichenberg Gustafsson, CFA
    Aline Reichenberg Gustafsson, CFA
    Aline Reichenberg Gustafsson, CFA is Editor-in-Chief for NordSIP and Managing Director for Big Green Tree Media. She has 18 years of experience in the asset management industry in Stockholm, London and Geneva, including as a long/short equity hedge fund portfolio manager, and buy-side analyst, but also as CFO and COO in several asset management firms. Aline holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a License in Economic Sciences from the University of Geneva.

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