The 17 UN SDGs – Great tool for Impact Investing | MakeImpact

The 17 UN SDGs

- Great tool for Impact Investing



Reading time: 7 min.

When we talk about Impact Investing today, we do so with a clear definition in mind – it is a way of investing in order to “generate specific beneficial social or environmental effect in addition to financial gain”.

The tools for measuring this “social or environmental effect” can vary but we would argue that if one is to focus on the individual and non-professional impact investor, a great way to see the areas of greatest concern to most global business that want to make an impact, would be to turn to the 17 UN Global Goals, also called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 17 SDGs were first established by the UN in 2015 and were set to meet the environmental, political and economic problems that we are facing in the world today. The deadline for these goals – year 2030!

From 17 SDG’s to 6 areas

11 years to solve some of the most grave challenges the world is currently facing is not a long time. So, in order for us to help out the most, we need a clearer picture of the different areas within the 17 SDGs that needs to be addressed.

Many of the SDGs are interconnected in terms of the problems they are trying to solve, making it possible to pool all of the 17 goals and divide them into six different areas:


To end poverty and fight inequality

The first area – Dignity – consists of SDG 1 (Poverty) and SDG 5 (Gender Inequality).

Dignity is often a big factor in the quality of life of most human beings. Dignity is preserved when each person is treated with respect no matter of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or social class. Imagine the opportunities that would be available if gender inequality and poverty did not exist? While discrimination against women and girls and extreme poverty has diminished, there is still a long way to go before these issues are solved. Addressing unfair social norms, developing progressive legal frameworks and having a universal social protection system are ways to end these issues.


Health and Education

The second area – People – consists of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and SDG 4 (Quality Education).

Nutrition, health and education are some of the most important goals to invest in people. But how do you invest in people? And why?

By investing in people, you provide them with the opportunity to gain knowledge. Having knowledge is a strong tool to empower people in improving their lives. Undernourishment have been decreased by half in the last two decades due to increased agricultural productivity and rapid economic growth. Maternal health, child mortality and diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria have been reduced greatly. Simultaneously there has been a significant increase in literacy rates and the enrollment of children in schools.

These are all important steps towards better nutrition, health, well-being and education for some the world’s most vulnerable people. However, there are still more steps to be taken. To reach these three SDG’s by 2030, we must actively participate in supporting small scale farmers and sustainable agricultural practices, support research, the development of vaccines and a universal healthcare that is affordable for all.

But if we really want to make an impact, we need to provide quality education that is available to everyone. Doing this, is arguably the most powerful aspect of achieving sustainable development, better health and better opportunities to improve the quality of life of those who need it the most.


Protect our ecosystems for all societies and our children

The third area – Planet – consists of SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).

This area focuses on our planet and the changes it is going through due to pollution, lack of water, deforestation, natural disasters – just to name a few.

We, as humans, have long been dependent on our planet. It has fed us through time, warmed us in the summer and cooled us in the winter. The planet has held its end of the deal and taken care of us. Now it is time for us to return the favour and take care of it.

The debate on climate changes has been ongoing for years. Some say that the changes are not something to worry about, while others say we must take immediate action. Opinions on the matter often comes with great discussions but what can’t be denied, is the fact that the planet and its surroundings is changing and these changes are often due to manmade actions. It is time to halt and reverse the damage already made before it is too late. So what can we do to help?

We can protect and restore water-related ecosystems like forests, mountains and rivers to treat water scarcity and consume and recycle responsibly – We can try to influence policies, so vulnerable regions can manage climate changes and natural disasters efficiently – We can encourage sustainable use of ocean-based resources and manage pollution through laws to avoid further deterioration of marine life.

Being more aware of our surroundings and the planet we live on, is a small yet very important step towards getting our planet back into a great shape.


Catalyse global solidarity for sustainable development

The fourth area – Partnership – consist of SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals).

Global partnerships are vital if the SDGs are to be reached by 2030. In this case, more is more and the larger the number of people that are willing to lend a hand, the faster it goes.

Natural disasters and conflicts are the main reasons for humanitarian crises today and even though the official development assistance from developed countries have increased, additional financial resources and aid is still in demand. But how can we meet the need for aid and financial assistance when not all countries can be equal partners, when it comes to financial contribution?

The world we live in today is interconnected thanks to technology and the internet. We can take advantage of the increasingly globalised world we live in and encourage international trade and help developing countries increase their exports. Achieving a universal rule-based and just trading system will be beneficial for all and help create strong and equal partners.


Promote safe & peaceful societies & strong institutions

The fifth area – Justice – consists of SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).

Without justice, the hope of a sustainable world will be difficult to fulfill. Justice is when there is peace, everyone is treated fairly and there is a law to protect people. In many countries this is a goal that is still being aimed for, while in other countries there has been a sustained level of stability and peace. But why is it so difficult for some countries to achieve a peaceful stability that other countries have been enjoying for years?

When sexual violence, war and social insecurity is part of your everyday life, any positive development will be a far reach. This is what the SDGs aim to change. Strengthening the rule of law, promoting human rights and making developing countries active participants in the institutions of global governance, is the beginning of achieving a peaceful world.


Grow a strong, inclusive and transformative economy

The sixth and final area – Prosperity – consists of SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).

Prosperity and growth in societies needs an environment that allows it to flourish. In the developed part of the world, having constant electricity, internet, housing and social equality is something that most of us take for granted. Reality is, that for many people around the world, this is still an unachieved dream.

Despite the growth of the global economy, extreme poverty is still an issue and is often concentrated in urban areas. Many are moving from rural areas to the city creating a shortage in housing opportunities. The lack of job opportunities for a growing labor force is causing income inequality to rise creating a wider gap between rich and poor. Inadequate transportation systems makes it difficult for those, who do not have a car to get to their jobs. Many still do not have access to internet or electricity. All these issues make it impossible for those afflicted to keep up with the constant development and growth in the world. To prosper, there has to be the opportunity to do so. So, what can be done?

Infrastructure needs to be developed to create growth opportunities, reduce poverty and make electricity affordable and accessible for all. Create quality housing with clean running water. Improve transportation, technological innovation and communication technologies. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation to get rid of forced labour and job scarcity.

Invest with Impact

Having pooled all 17 SDGs into six areas gives a much clearer overview of the things needed to be done before 2030, and as you can see, there are plenty of issues in need of immediate attention.

Impact Investing is key to tackling these issues and by investing your money in companies that makes a difference in the world, you can start making an impact already now.