The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals set in 2015 to prompt action on urgent global issues.
The goals cover a wide range of global areas of concern, ranging from climate action to the eradication of poverty, and are intended to be achieved by 2030.
Many companies use the goals as guidance in their efforts toward sustainability and social responsibility. At Genus, we currently align our impact portfolios with seven SDGs in particular*:
- SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
- SDG 5: Gender Equality
- SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG 9: Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure
- SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Here’s a look at each of these seven SDGs, and how we use them as alignment principles in our responsible, sustainable and impact portfolios.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being, guides us to invest in companies that are seeking solutions to advance global health issues, from vaccine development to increasing life expectancy.
Targets include reducing the global maternal mortality rate, ending preventable deaths of newborns and kids under age 5, ending epidemics such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring access to universal health coverage.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
Did you know that Canadian women still earn only about 77 percent of what men do? (Source: Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2019). And, at the current rate of progress, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for 130 years. (Source: UN Women, 2021).
The pandemic also pushed back the needle on equality for most women around the world, setting women’s labour force participation back by 30 years. (Source: US Department of Labour, 2021).
Gender equality is an issue we’re passionate about at Genus. It’s a complex issue that encompasses not only equal opportunities for women and girls worldwide, but also the elimination of gender-based violence and the equitable distribution of unpaid household labour.
SDG 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls around the world. We align our impact investment portfolios with this SDG by supporting companies working to achieve this UN goal.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Renewable energy is a growing part of our future—especially as more and more countries set clean energy targets. That’s one reason why we align our sustainable portfolios with the United Nations’ Sustainable SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, which strives for clean, affordable energy for all by 2030.
We align our portfolios with SDG 7 in two ways:
- Screening out companies directly involved with fossil fuels, and
- Seeking out companies that actively make a positive impact, such as renewable energy company Vestas.
To meet global carbon emissions reduction targets, it’s critical that we decrease our reliance on fossil fuels and switch to cleaner alternatives. We use this goal to guide us in investing in renewable energy companies with strong ESG and financial performance, so that we can all have a greater positive impact on the planet.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Work and income inequality issues are, unfortunately, rampant around the world. Even before 2020, the average growth of the global economy had started to slow.
- The pandemic led to the loss of the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs
- 1.6 billion informal economy workers, who lack a social safety net, were significantly impacted by the pandemic
- While economic recovery is underway, many countries will only see a return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 or 2023.
We invest in companies that work to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Companies like Signify, Umicore, and Citrix.
- Signify has committed to supporting 10,000 lighting entrepreneurs with technical and business skills, with the aim to improve working conditions for their suppliers.
- Umicore is focusing on closing gender and pay gaps in senior management with a long-term goal of zero inequality.
- Citrix has implemented initiatives to support underrepresented employees, keeping diversity top of mind in career conversations and planning.
SDG 9: Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure
According to the United Nations, it has long been recognized that a strong physical network of industry and communication can improve productivity, income, health, well-being and education. Increasing industrialization – the development of critical infrastructure like roads, technology development, scientific research and internet access are the focus points for this SDG.
And investing in industrialization can have DOUBLING effects on other industries, such as contributing to job growth. Investing in transport, irrigation, energy, and information and communication technology plays a considerable role in driving economic growth.
If this is an area you’re passionate about, consider aligning your investments with SDG 9: Industry, Industrialization, and Innovation. Your investments can help stimulate economic growth in communities around the world.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Did you know that cities are a major contributor to climate change? Despite only occupying 3% of our land, they account for 75% of carbon emissions and 80% of the world’s energy consumption. (Source: United Nations)
From green spaces to sustainable transport systems, this SDG is all about making cities and communities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable for all.
We align our impact investment portfolios with SDG 11 to help reduce our cities’ environmental footprint.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Shocking statistic: 1 million plastic water bottles are purchased every *minute*. And water bottles are just one part of our plastic problem.
The global footprint from production and consumption is increasing, putting immense pressure on our natural resources. This goal seeks to increase our sustainable consumption and production patterns, so that we can collectively reduce our footprint.
This is one of the reasons we invest in companies that support sustainable production patterns and adhere to SDG 12. Companies that:
- Produce goods and services responsibly, such as reducing the use of packaging in their products
- Increase access to local products
- Invest in sustainable materials, suppliers and distribution systems
By aligning our responsible, sustainable and impact portfolios with these seven UN SDGs, we’re tapping into a valuable actionable framework that allows us to develop impactful products that give investors a path to align their goals with their investments in meaningful and measurable ways.
Interested in exploring how you can align your investment portfolio with the UN Sustainable Development Goals? Talk to a Genus Advisor today.
*Genus Funds as at August 19, 2022. Fund holdings and SDG alignment are subject to change.
1: Canadian Women’s Foundation. (2017). Gender Pay Gap | Pay Inequity Facts | Canadian Women’s Foundation. Canadian Women’s Foundation. https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/the-gender-pay-gap/
2: Facts and figures: Women’s leadership and political participation | What we do. (n.d.). UN Women. https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures#_edn2
3: ILO: Uncertain and uneven recovery expected following unprecedented labour market crisis. (2021, January 25). Www.ilo.org. https://www.ilo.org/ankara/areas-of-work/covid-19/WCMS_766949/lang–en/index.htm#1
4: ILO: As job losses escalate, nearly half of global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods. (2020, April 29). Www.ilo.org. https://www.ilo.org/moscow/news/WCMS_743036/lang–en/index.htm
5: Sustainable cities and communities Challenges Solutions PROMOTE SOUND URBAN PLANNING. (n.d.). https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/22746/11_Sustainable%20cities%20and%20communities_FINAL.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y