What are UN SDGs and why do we have them?

Giorgia Antonacci

by , ESG Manager

28 Mar 2023 /  

Flag of the United Nations

This article was last updated on 10/06/2024

In September 2015, the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit adopted a framework to guide international development efforts, entitled Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agenda’s a global roadmap to drive action, which addresses critical issues for humanity and the planet through the collaboration of countries and stakeholders, with the aim of full implementation by the end of this decade. The Agenda’s universally applicable and takes into account different national realities and levels of development whilst respecting national policies and priorities.

The Agenda’s built around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals, and divided into 169 targets. They’re a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, addressing the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Why SDGs matter

The adoption of SDGs in 2015 brought renewed attention to the importance of interlinked action across different sectors. The SDGs and targets are all integrated, which means the actions taken in achieving one SDG target may contribute to achieving other goals or targets.

The SDGs were also designed to highlight interlinkages between environmental, economic and social aspects of development, and to point out the gaps and opportunities that have unfolded. As governments and businesses in the private sector such as manufacturers, corporations and developers, plan their approaches to environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, they must balance and integrate each of those dimensions whilst interconnecting each area and when gauging their social return on investment.

SDGs and the Impact Plan

In February 2023, PensionBee launched its Impact Plan, which seeks to deliver long-term total returns by investing in a globally-diversified portfolio of 200-300 publicly-listed companies. The core products and/ or services of the companies in the Impact Plan are addressing some of the world’s major social and environmental challenges and advancing the SDGs and targets, whilst also helping those who invest in it to save for a happy retirement.

One of the Impact Plan’s core characteristics is intentionality. This means the companies in the plan are intending to generate positive and measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. To help meet this characteristic, every company in the plan must show that more than 50% of its revenue or business activity is, and must continue, contributing to a social or environmental benefit or advancing one or more of the SDGs and impact themes. Watch an overview of what the PensionBee Impact Plan is and how it works.

The table below outlines the SDG targets and impact themes some of the companies in the portfolio are aligned to. View the Impact Plan’s current top 10 holdings.

Company name and description Impact theme Advancing which UN SDG(s)?
Bank Rakyat Indonesia
BRI’s the largest microlender and financial services provider in Indonesia, where approximately half the adult population remains unbanked.
Financial and Digital Inclusion Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
RELX plc
Education publisher of products to advance legal, scientific and analytical knowledge, such as periodicals and academic journals.
Education and Skilling Goal 4: Quality education
Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
Schneider Electric
Global specialist in Energy Management and Industrial Automation for multiple end markets.
Efficiency, Electrification, Digitisation Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Goal 9: Industry innovation and infrastructure
Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
Koninklijke DSM N.V.
A Dutch health and nutrition company with a global footprint applying bioscience to improve the health of people, animals and the planet.
Doing so through nutrition,
personal care and sustainable engineering materials.
Sustainable Food and Water Goal 2: Zero hunger
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
Royalty Pharma Plc
Provides needed financing for drug discovery across various diseases in exchange for a portion of future drug revenues.
Public health Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing
Boston Scientific Corp
Manufacturer of medical devices and other solutions that addresses unmet patient needs and reduces the cost of healthcare.
Public health Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing
EDP Renovaveis
Constructs, operates and maintains power stations generating electricity from renewable sources, mainly wind and solar.
Green energy Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Goal 13: Climate action
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc
Thermo Fisher Scientific is a conglomerate focused on critical tools and supplies for life sciences, innovative biopharma and medical testing.
Public health Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing
Danaher Corp
Provider of innovative diagnostic tools and state-of-the-art medical equipment that lead to better healthcare prognoses.
Public health Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

*The above table represents a snapshot of the fund’s equity holdings at launch on 15 February 2023. Holdings can change at any time and are provided for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be deemed as a recommendation to buy or sell the securities mentioned or securities in the industries in which they are placed.

SDGs and PensionBee

We believe that incorporating ESG factors into PensionBee’s business is important to help reach long-term sustainability. In 2022 we conducted our first ever ESG Materiality Assessment, which has given us deeper insights into the ESG themes of most importance to our stakeholders and enabled us to prioritise our ESG work. It’s also helped us to consider where we have the biggest opportunity to contribute to the SDGs.

We’ve mapped our ESG materiality assessment to the SDGs that are most relevant for our business and stakeholders amongst our top ranked material topics. Those SDGs are:

  • SDG 1. No poverty
  • SDG 3. Good health and Wwllbeing
  • SDG 4. Quality education
  • SDG 5. Gender equality
  • SDG 7. Affordable and clean energy
  • SDG 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • SDG 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • SDG 10. Reduced inequalities
  • SGD 13. Climate action.

PensionBee views all UN SDGs as highly interrelated and recognises many of our material topics are connected to additional SDGs.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. Anything discussed on the podcast should not be regarded as financial advice.

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