Alliance Trust calls on investors to adopt UN goals

United Nations headquarters, New York City

Alliance Trust Investments (ATI) calls on investors and companies to implement the United Nations' (UN's) sustainable development goals (SDGs) into their practices, in a white paper published on Monday (18 January).

The UN's SDGs are a set of 17 global development targets that address issues such as ending poverty and hunger, providing universal access to water and education, supporting gender equality and tackling climate change.

Launched in September 2015, they build on a set of eight millennium development goals established by the UN in 2000, but unlike the latter these new goals explicitly outline the role of corporations in achieving their aims.

'We believe that the private sector has a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a real impact on helping society reach these goals. The SDGs provide companies with a purpose beyond simple profitability.

FRAMEWORK

'However, companies which are aligned with them are likely to be more successful precisely because they will be providing people with what they want more of. This explains why the SDGs are relevant to investors looking to find strong long-term returns,' ATI sets out in its white paper.

The firm says it has developed a framework to integrate the goals into its own investment analysis based on three key stages: identifying drivers of long-term returns; analysing how the UN goals are likely to affect a company's operating environment; and quantifying the scale of change on the company and its valuation.

Peter Michaelis, head of equities at Alliance Trust Investments, says: 'The benefits of the sustainable development goals to society are self-evident.

'For companies they point to areas of strong long-term demand - i.e. what people want more of - and for investors they provide a means of sorting the vulnerable companies from those with positive long-term prospects.'

ATI has called on other asset managers to integrate the UN goals into their investment approaches. It is also asking companies to adopt the goals by outlining how their businesses fit within them, setting out their response to them and regularly reporting on the progress being made towards achieving them.

Peter Bakker, president and chief executive of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, comments: 'The UN's sustainable development goals are the global agenda for the sustainable development of our societies and the implied transformation will offer enormous business opportunities.'


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