Investors unite: contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals together

Published on: 14 September 2020

The SDI Asset Owner Platform is a much-needed piece in the puzzle of how investors can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. It allows members to determine which investments do and which of them do not advance the 17 goals, which include climate action, good health and wellbeing and affordable clean energy. This was the conclusion of experts from various continents who participated in the platform’s online launch event on 10 September.


“The SDI Asset Owner Platform (SDI AOP) is more than just another sustainable investing initiative,” says Claudia Kruse, who heads up APG’s Global Responsible Investment & Governance team. “Led by asset owners, it focuses specifically on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and shows how companies’ products or services contribute to them. Processing unstructured data with artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology allows for broad coverage of global capital markets portfolios. Based on audited financial metrics, the data is objective and classifications are rules-based and auditable.”


The SDDs matter to us as a long-term investor, says Andrew Gray, Director ESG & Stewardship at AustralianSuper and founding member of the SDI AOP, together with APG, PGGM and BCI. “We believe that companies that contribute to the goals can be well positioned for a future economy that is aligned with the SDGs, and therefore represent attractive investment opportunities.”

The SDI AOP is a wonderful example of how we can do more together than individually

The lack of quality data to define contributions to the SDGs has long been an impediment to investors. “The information offered by the SDI AOP enables us to identify investment opportunities and establish to what extent our portfolio contributes to the SDGs,” says Gray. “It also makes our engagement with companies much more concrete by bringing objective, comparable data into the conversation. In the future,  it may also help us improve our product offering to members, for example by offering them a sustainable investment option based on positive contributions of companies to the SDGs rather than – as they historically have been – on exclusion.”


Easy-to-use and cost-efficient data


The SDGs are no longer a side industry of the financial services community, but have become front and center. Asset owners have been struggling to make the SDGs part of their standard investment processes, says Ian Webster, Senior Managing Director at distribution partner Qontigo. “The SDI AOP creates a set of easy-to-use and cost-efficient data that can be incorporated into existing tools for investment decisions and reporting. In this way, the SDI AOP allows for a very wide set of use cases and continuous development in the future.”


The launch of the SDI AOP comes at a critical time, says Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). “The SDGs are the world’s business plan for a greener, more inclusive and sustainable future. And the SDI AOP is a much-needed piece in the puzzle of how we as investment community can advance the SDGs. It will help translate the SDGs into investment goals and make sure that investors and corporates have a standardized way of reporting. The SDI AOP is a wonderful example of how we can do more together than individually.”


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