UBS at the UN – and what that means 25 May 2018

By Michael Baldinger, Head of Sustainable and Impact Investing at UBS Asset Management

In 2016, we made a promise. We pledged to use our financial strength to help build a better tomorrow. Being invited to speak at the UN headquarters gave us the opportunity to discuss how we can collaborate better to deliver on this commitment.

How do we measure environmental impact

photo credit: UN-DESA

The ECOSOC forum on Financing for Development was a follow-up to an initiative that began back in 2015 when a major conference – the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) – took place to discuss funding of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are an ambitious and far-reaching set of goals aimed at addressing the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time.

What does commitment look like in practice?

Shortly after the aforementioned AAAA, Axel Weber, Chairman of UBS, pledged our support by committing to generate USD 5 billion of private capital to meet the SDGs' targets. Since then, we've been working to ensure that we deliver more than just words.

When speaking at the ECOSOC forum on Financing for Development, I began by asking a simple question – "What does commitment look like in practice?" I hoped to reinforce the ways in which UBS is working to support the SDGs across our firm as well as our ongoing efforts to uphold the commitment we made to them.

Improving over two million lives. And we're not stopping there.

Speaking at the UN, I chose to highlight three innovative philanthropy initiatives that exemplify the efforts UBS has undertaken:

  • Educate Girls – the world's first operational Development Impact Bond (DIB) in education, launched in 2014, which aims to improve education for 9,000 girls in rural India
  • Optimus Foundation Maternal and Newborn Health DIB – an initiative which has already provided USD 3.5 million in upfront funding to two frontline NGO partners and is expected to impact up to 600,000 pregnant women in rural India
  • Social Success Note – an innovative financing mechanism which has already brought together UBS, the Rockefeller Foundation and Yunus Social Business to deliver clean water to 1.4 million Ugandan children

UBS enjoys a privileged position as the world's largest wealth manager. Across our business, from Asset Management to Global Wealth Management, we are transforming the way we do business. We have the ability to join forces with clients, corporations, NGOs and the public sector to implement mobilization of capital toward initiatives that support a better version of the future. And we intend to do just that.