UN/DESA Policy Brief #77: How can investors move from greenwashing to SDG-enabling?

Who’s behind it? – UN Department of Social Affairs (DESA)



How can it help? – UNDESA’s policy brief no. 77 makes the case for a common definition of sustainable development investment (SDI). The brief is part of a series aimed at helping policy makers facing difficult choices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The series has also addressed the impacts of the pandemic on youtholder personspersons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples, and how it is affecting physical activity and wellbeing; and accountability at the national level and the relationships between States and people, among other topics.A shared understanding could help ensure a meaningful contribution to the SDGs and hold companies accountable for the social and environmental behavior, the authors argue.

In this policy brief, authors recommend that: 

  • Companies must adapt their business model to reflect growing risks and uncertainties, and help build a sustainable world; doing so is necessary to preserve their financial performance in the long run
  • Investors have the financial resources to push companies to change, but lack the necessary tools given limited reliable data on non-financial issues
  • A common definition of Sustainable Development Investing (SDI) would be a first step in ensuring that investments presented as “sustainable” make a meaningful contribution to the global goals
  • But implementing such definition will require strengthened mandatory reporting requirements


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