The complete investment guide to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.
Over a series of months in early 2022, we broke down each individual UN SDG and considered how investors could help. The interconnected nature of the goals means that they often overlap and should be viewed holistically. Our areas of focus shouldn’t be viewed as an exhaustive list, however we believe they offer a strong starting point for investors looking to add more sustainable elements to their portfolio.
This page is regularly updated with new related content to help investors continue their education toward a more sustainable portfolio.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #1: No Poverty
The aim of this goal is to end global poverty in all its forms .This goal has seven associated targets, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty, and implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger
The aim of this goal is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The related eight targets aim to end all forms of malnutrition, with a particular focus on stunting, childhood wasting and the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and older persons. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Wellbeing
The aim of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #3 is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. The associated targets aim to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio; end preventable deaths of newborns and children; end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases; strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse; ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services; achieve universal health coverage and more. Learn more.
- Podcast: Why COVID has been a genuine catalyst for positive change in the healthcare industry
- Video: Is med-tech the future of the healthcare sector?
- Article: Healthcare: more than just Pharma
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education
The aim of goal four is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Its ten targets focus on ensuring all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. This goal also includes ensuring equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational, and tertiary education, including university. It even covers adult numeracy, global scholarships available in developing countries and, increasing, the supply of qualified teachers, especially in less developed countries. Learn more.
- Article: Why has China clamped down on its education sector?
- Article: Investing for the future generation of students
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #5: Gender Equality
This goal aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Globally, it aims to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls. The nine targets include hard to talk about areas like violence against women; exploitation; harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage; and female genital mutilation. It means recognising the value of unpaid care and domestic work and policies that promote shared responsibility in a household. It’s also universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #6: Clean Water and Sanitation
The aim of goal six looks to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. In addition, it aims to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, with special attention going towards women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. It has eight targets in total, encompassing themes like reducing pollution, increasing water-use efficiency and protecting water-related ecosystems. Learn more.
- Podcast: Water scarcity, labour issues and human rights
- Article: World Water Week: the reality of water scarcity and investing for the future
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #7: Affordable and Clean Energy
The aim of SDG 7 is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Targets include areas of improved energy efficiency, the share of renewable energy globally, and global expansion of infrastructure and technology. Learn more.
- Podcast: Why energy prices could remain high
- Podcast: World Sustainable Energy Days: renewable energy sources are just part of the net zero journey
- Article: 2021 the year of renewable energy?
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
The aim of this goal is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. The overarching goal is to sustain 7% gross domestic product growth per year in the least developed countries. The goal also has six gender-specific indicators that relate directly to women including full and productive employment for all women and men, young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value by 2030. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
The aim of this goal is to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation. This goal has eight targets that include twelve indicators for measurable success. Broadly speaking, it encompasses not only traditional infrastructure such as access to all-season roads for rural communities, but also global manufacturing production, air transportation and research and development. Learn more.
- Podcast: Why infrastructure investing is poised for great things
- Article: Infrastructure: three things I learned this week
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities
SDG 10 is all about reducing inequality within and among countries. By 2030, its aim is to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. It also aims to ensure equal opportunities, reduce inequalities of outcome and progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40% of the population at a rate higher than the national average. Learn more.
- Podcast: Why are there more ‘Dave’ than women fund managers?
- Article: Is it time to invest in social bonds?
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
The aim of SDG 11 is to make cities and settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable for all by 2030. This includes access for all to both affordable housing and basic services. The ten related targets also cover accessible transport systems, safeguarding the world’s cultural heritages, air quality, waste management and universal access to safe and inclusive green and public spaces. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #12: Responsible Consumption and Production
The aim of SDG 12 is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns globally through eleven different targets. Reduce, reuse, recycle is a present theme, but it also tackles areas such as efficient use of natural resources, global food waste and sustainable tourism as well as also encouraging companies to integrate sustainability information into their reporting. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action
This goal aims to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact on the world. It tackles not only the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement, but also issues like food security and production, terrestrial and wetland ecosystems, freshwater resources, human health, and key economic sectors and services. It is one of the few goals that directly references the need for climate related finance from developed countries to support vulnerable developing countries. Learn more.
- Article: Code red for humanity: how it impacts you and your finances
- Podcast: How mother nature helps and hinders insurance
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water
The sustainability of our oceans is under severe threat. The aim of SDG 14 is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, sea and marine resources for sustainable development. The ten targets include, of course, the reduction of marine pollution but also: protecting and restoring ecosystems; reducing ocean acidification; conserving coastal areas; sustainable fishing, increased research and implementing and enforcing international sea law. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land
The goal of Life on Land is to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. The twelve related targets include the sustainable management of forests, combating deforestation and desertification, reversing land degradation, the halting of biodiversity loss, combating poaching and trafficking of protecting species. Learn more.
- Podcast: How changing out diets can help win the battle with biodiversity loss
- Article: A Life on our Planet: investing for a better world
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
This particular goal is broad, complex and multifaceted, and addresses priorities such as global governance and the rule of law. The aim is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Much still needs to be done across all twelve targets, to address a number of issues including the displacement of people due to persecution, conflict or generalised violence; the risk of exploitation, trafficking and child labour; and ending bribery. Learn more.
UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #17: Partnerships for the Goals
The aim is to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. Its nineteen targets include everything from improving domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection, to the implementation of investment promotion regimes for the least developed countries and enhancing global macroeconomic stability. Learn more.