How can we tackle the world’s most urgent challenges?

Awareness, simplification and contribution: UBS outlines three key approaches for the 2019 World Economic Forum

23 Jan 2019


Among the global challenges discussed at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos: how to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which range from eliminating extreme poverty and hunger to tackling climate change and reducing income inequality.

Without a greater commitment on the part of all parties involved, the 2030 deadline for these goals won’t be met. At today’s pace of progress, for example, nearly two billion men, women and children will continue to lack access to san­itation by 2030, according to one estimate from the Brookings Institution.

In a new whitepaper, our top economists and strategists outline three key approaches that can help achieve the goal of tackling the world’s most urgent challenges:

  1. Awareness: In a 2016 Glocalities survey carried out across 24 countries, just one percent of respondents said they knew the UN’s SDGs “very well.” CIO proposes using multiple media channels to increase their awareness, as well as supporting the alignment of investment solutions with investors’ sustainability interests so the public can tackle the causes they most care about.
  2. Simplification: 48 percent of participants in a 2018 UBS Investor Watch survey of high net worth individuals claimed they were familiar with sustainable investing terms. By making corporate sustainability data easier to grasp with common standards and a mainstream approach, CIO thinks everyone could understand corporate contributions to people and the planet. Naming sustainable investing (SI) strategies in a clear, consistent manner and following a single set of impact measurement standards should help this simplicity to become mainstream.
  3. Contribution: To meet the SDGs by 2030 requires annual investment of roughly USD 5–7tn, according to UN-sponsored Principles for Responsible Investing estimates. Investment to meet these goals in developing nations currently falls short of the required annual total by USD 2.5tn. To achieve a bigger contribution to the SDGs, CIO outlines how publicly traded strategies could be used in traditional portfolios, focusing on market rate performance and having an actual positive social and environmental impact. CIO also outlines why making philanthropy more collective and collaborative, rather than competitive, could attract further flows to it. The newly released whitepaper for the World Economic Forum dives further into these three approaches and outlines eight potential solutions via investment, philanthropy and consumption that will help achieve the UN’s SDGs.

Read the full paper to learn more