Cornerstone Capital Group’s Access Impact Framework™ illustrates how our clients’ portfolios align in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The framework links the Sustainable Development Goals to investment activities through a focus on access — access to the natural, human and economic resources that will create a more regenerative and inclusive world.
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The Case for Aligning Portfolios with the Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015 the United Nations introduced its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, with it, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs represent a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. They are a call to action for all stakeholders — governments, civil society, international organizations, the private sector and individuals — to align their activities to support the 2030 Agenda.
Each of the 17 SDGs is further refined by targets that can be more readily translated into actions. These targets highlight the interconnected nature of the goals: for example, strategies to achieve the goal of ending poverty are intertwined with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Through an in-depth analysis of the underlying social, environmental and economic dynamics of the SDGs, Cornerstone identified an important common denominator: access. In this context, we define access as the ability of individuals and societies to achieve desired social, economic and environmental outcomes. Our analysis found that all 17 SDGs and many of the 232 underlying targets and indicators specifically cited the need for increased access to key social, economic and environmental systems.
At A Glance
The concept of access provides a critical link between the Sustainable Development Goals,
business activity, and investment opportunity. Our analysis identified eleven access themes that link the Sustainable Development Goals:
Fair Treatment and Equal Opportunity
Access to equal opportunity and fair treatment, to prohibit discrimination and to promote the full realization of equal opportunity and protection from unfair treatment.
Access to low cost, quality financial services products to improve financial options for low to moderate income people who lack access to financing options suitable to their needs.
Access to universal health coverage, including access to quality essential healthcare services, to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all and to affordable healthcare insurance where available.
Access to key technology and communications systems for all, including those in rural and emerging markets.
Access to inclusive and quality education for all, including employment training and continuing education.
Sustainable Sources of Food and Nutrition
Access to food security through the physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.
Affordable, Sustainable and Modern Energy
Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, including: universal access to clean-combusting cooking fuels and stoves, and rural electrification.
Clean Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Access to improved, safe and clean drinking water sources that are protected from outside contamination, and access to proper sanitation and hygiene facilities.
Access to clean air, including products and services aimed at the reduction of the health and economic risks, and negative environmental impacts, of pollution.
Adequate Housing and Living Conditions
Access to safe, secure, habitable and affordable housing and adequate living conditions for all.
Safe, Affordable and Sustainable Transportation
Access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, including: improving road safety, expanding public transport and connecting rural and urban areas.
To illustrate, below are the connections between SDG 5: Gender Equality and the key access themes to which it aligns.
Using Access to Telecommunication Systems as an example, owning a mobile phone or having an internet connection provides women with access to online ﬁnancial services tools, educational resources, healthcare services, and career opportunities. Access to telecommunication systems increases access to several other social, environmental and economic systems that support progress toward the achievement of SDG 5.
Cornerstone’s Access Impact Framework incorporates company-level ESG metrics with proprietary industry and manager-level analysis to derive insight into the alignment of investment portfolios with our access themes, and thus in turn with the Sustainable Development Goals:
The final piece of Cornerstone’s Access Impact Framework incorporates the company, industry and manager analyses into a total portfolio report. This report shows clients how their portfolios contribute to increased access in support of the achievement of the SDGs. Reports can be customized to highlight SDGs that clients have identified as their impact priorities.