Environmental Social Governance (ESG)

17 goals to transform our world

By Rebekah Swan
Chartered Member of Institute of Directors (CMInstD) Managing Director / Head of Clients New Zealand

In 2015, more than 190 world leaders agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a better world by 2030. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. Not surprisingly, the SDGs are becoming more and more a topic of conversation.

This initial post starts with a brief overview of the SGDs and why they are important, with further posts planned detailing the specific SDGs we are targeting as an organisation.

The 17 goals

The SDGs were developed to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ended in 2015, and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. They cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice. The 17 goals are depicted in the diagram below:

Sustainable development goals

The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another. Each goal also has a separate list of targets to achieve, so in total there are 169 targets for the 17 goals.

The success of the SDGs requires a partnership of governments, private sector, society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations. It lets any organisation, regardless of their activity, to relate their strategy or objectives to the SDGs, which in turn allows everyone to talk the same language. What I love about the SDGs is that we are all speaking the same language as others in the impact investment ecosystem – locally, nationally, and internationally.

Why the SDGs matter

The UN Sustainable Development Goals will continue the fight begun by the Millennium Development Goals against extreme poverty, and add the challenges of ensuring more equitable development and environmental sustainability, especially the key goal of curbing the dangers of human-induced climate change. If the global community collectively is prepared to step up to the challenge, then there’s a chance of achieving sustainable development — and with it better prospects for people and the planet.

In my role I’m very lucky I get to work with many different parts of the economy, from community organisations, councils, energy companies, traditional investors, etc. I get to see how some of these organisations are taking a leadership role in this space and how they are applying it to their business/organisation activity. AMP Capital recently hosted an event in our Wellington office, in partnership with the Sustainable Business Network, discussing the SDGs and looking beneath the hood, followed by an interactive workshop. It was inspiring to see a diverse range of people all looking to learn more about applying the SDGs to their business, and great to share some insights from an investment perspective alongside speakers from other sectors.

Sustainable development isn’t just something which happens to somebody else, somewhere else. We each have a role to play if we are going to achieve these goals of a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable world. The SDGs are everybody’s responsibility.

In the last issue of the RIL Engagement Report you may have noticed the inclusion of SDG icons in each of the articles covered. Through our Responsible Investment Charter we are essentially investing to do good. However, as an organisation we’ve also begun thinking about the SDGs and how the investing that we are doing is impacting on SDG outcomes. Increasingly, impact is being assessed through alignment with the SDGs – so outcomes need to be tangible, able to be measured, and then be reported on. 

In future posts, I’ll talk more about the specific SDGs we are targeting through our engagement – such as SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 13 Climate Action – as well as our engagement with companies on issues such as human rights in supply chains, gender diversity and social infrastructure, which support other SDGs.

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Important notes

This blog post has been prepared to provide general information and does not constitute financial advice in accordance with the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013. An individual investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the information available in the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and seek professional advice. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this document, AMP Capital Investors (New Zealand) Limited and the AMP Group (together, 'AMP') make no guarantee that the information supplied is accurate, complete or timely and do not make any warranties or representations in respect of results gained from its use. The information is not intended to infer that current or past returns are indicative of future returns. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of AMP. These views are subject to change depending on market conditions and other factors.

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