Impact investing and the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals

By Mike Narouei, Content Producer at Boring Money

29 Jan, 2020

When you’re a on the hunt for the most responsible investment funds around, you come across all sorts of products that claim to do good. And whereas some sustainable funds seek only to avoid having a negative impact, others are far more active in trying to have a positive impact. There’s even a sub-division of sustainable investing called ‘impact investing’, which is dedicated to making positive changes you can actually measure.

Think wind farms generating clean energy in place of dirty fossil fuels. Think young children leaving sweat shops and starting to go to school. Think board rooms balancing the gender divide and pay gap. As well as there being fairly general impact funds available, there are also some that specialise, so you can choose to have more of an environmental impact or more of a social impact, for example. Wherever your own values lie, there’s a way to invest with them in mind. But just like picking from a Chinese buffet, sometimes it helps to have a menu of options. A shortlist of positive impacts to mix and match. And that’s where the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals can come in.

Introducing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

17 types of positive impact to target with your investments

The United Nations created the following 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “as a blueprint for shared prosperity in a sustainable world – a world where people can live productive, vibrant and peaceful lives on a healthy planet”. Which is a nice way of saying ‘pull your fingers out and muck in before the world goes to pot’.

You might recognise the 17 SDGs from investment provider websites and reports, as they’re often used to signpost the positive impacts intended by an investment – and sometimes to show the results too. So get to know them, seek out your favourites, and you’ll be investing in line with your values in no time.

At a glance

1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Wellbeing
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life On Land
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnership to The Goals

The infographics that follow originated in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019

1. No Poverty

“End poverty in all its forms everywhere.” Read more

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2. Zero Hunger

“End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” Read more

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3. Good Health and Wellbeing

“Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.” Read more

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4. Quality Education

“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Read more

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5. Gender Equality

“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Read more

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

“Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” Read more

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8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

“Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” Read more

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9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

“Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” Read more

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10. Reduced Inequalities

“Reduce inequality within and among countries.” Read more

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11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

“Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” Read more

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12. Responsible Consumption and Production

“Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” Read more

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13. Climate Action

“Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” Read more

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14. Life Below Water

“Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, sea and marine resources for sustainable development.” Read more

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15. Life On Land

“Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” Read more

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16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Read more

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17. Partnership to The Goals

“Strengthen the means of implementation and reviltalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” Read more

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Want to know more about investing with a positive impact?

Check out our Sustainable Savers pages for tips, stories and fund suggestions.