Guterres launches new plan for SDG financing, as private finance takes the spotlight

A participant draws a picture on a board during the U.N. Secretary-General’s High-level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Photo by: Evan Schneider / U.N.

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres launched a new strategy to help finance the 2030 agenda Monday, but beyond the strategy, the speakers sharing the podium were a sign that times are changing.

Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, addressed the crowded U.N. Economic and Social Council Chamber and talked about why it is critical for investors to start to consider sustainability as a key part of its investing progress. He called for better data and measurement, which he said was “indispensable for driving capital, which is what will ultimately drive sustainable development.”

Fink’s address is likely to send the message that BlackRock is serious about requiring the companies it invests in to report on and be accountable for long-term sustainability. And it’s a sign that perhaps capital markets are starting to acknowledge they have a critical role to play in financing the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We need to act urgently to drive progress,” Guterres said. “That means galvanizing political support across governments and local communities, building momentum for change in corporate boardrooms, and doing better in tapping resources that sit idle — some $300 trillion in financial assets are managed by the global financial system on our collective behalf.”

Developed country governments must honor their commitments made at the Addis Ababa Financing for Development forum and governments, with help from the international community, must continue to work on domestic resource mobilization to crack down on tax evasion and illicit capital flows, he said. Lastly, it is critical that efforts to mobilize private investment and develop innovative financing are accelerated, he added.

The new strategy’s goal is to align global economic policies and financial systems with the SDGs, enhance sustainable financing solutions and investments, and ensure that financial innovation’s potential is used to make access to finance more equitable.

The U.N. Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner will organize and lead a task force on the digital financing of the SDGs as part of the new strategy, which wasn’t detailed in depth at the meeting.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked about the role governments can play in de-risking and encouraging capital to flow to the places that most need it and said it was “imperative” that everyone be part of the solution.

There were also several calls for continued or additional support both from post-conflict, or conflict-affected states and small island developing nations, leaders of which asked that they be a focus of SDG funding, and not be left behind.

NCDs. Climate change. Financing. Read more of Devex's coverage from the 73rd U.N. General Assembly here.

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    Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.