Prominent financial institutions and businesses worth USD 16 trillion have pledged to scale-up sustainable investments globally, especially in countries most in need, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) alliance on Wednesday vowed greater action to confront the international economic crisis driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and keep the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on track.
Infosys CEO and Managing Director Salil Parekh is among the GISD members. According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the coronavirus has infected over 73,00,000 people and killed than 4,16,000 across the world. The US is the worst affected country with over 2 million cases and more than 1,11,000 deaths.
The contagion, which originated in China's Wuhan city in December last year, has also battered the world economy with the International Monetary Fund saying that the global economy, which was in a sluggish recovery even before the coronavirus outbreak, is now bound to suffer a "severe recession".
The World Bank has also called for countries to step up efforts to fight the disease and improve the economy. The GISD alliance reinforced UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' calls for wide-ranging actions that match the scale of the crisis.
As the diverse and severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt across the world, an unparalleled economic shock is putting development gains at risk, the UN chief told the meeting of high-powered business leaders on Wednesday. Unemployment has skyrocketed. Temporary business closures are becoming permanent. Rebuilding to pre-crisis levels of employment and output may take years, Guterres said at the virtual GISD gathering.
The coronavirus is having dramatic impacts on the way the world works for example, by reducing energy usage and prompting the adoption of technologies that can decouple the economy from its reliance on fossil fuels, Guterres said. These changes can be the beginning of the process of shaping our world for the better. But the global community must go further, taking active steps to align recovery with sustainable development, the UN Secretary-General said.
The alliance members agreed to accelerate efforts to align investment with sustainable development objectives and integrate the SDGs into their core business models. They also pledged to establish scalable innovative financing and investment vehicles to advance the SDGs, including through the COVID-19 bonds, risk-sharing tools, joint investment and business matchmaking platforms.
In addition, the group promised to promote regulations that facilitate investment in sustainable development and create more resilient economies. They also pledged to accelerate private and public sector collaboration to develop models that price-in carbon emissions and other ways to incentivise sustainable business practices.
The UN chief said that rebuilding must mean a fairer, greener and more resilient global economy, that leaves no one behind. There are positive signs that this moment could provide the opening for transformations that have been long in the making, but perhaps needed a push, Guterres said.
Highlighting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the world's agreed framework ; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as a path to mobilise resources and the Paris Agreement on climate change as the pact to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, the UN chief underscored the importance of aligning economic and social values.
This means businesses acting in the interest of stakeholders, not just shareholders, and integrating sustainability into their operations, he said. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of ensuring that environmental and social impacts are factored into all financial decisions.
He outlined how by shifting public international finance towards sustainable sectors, and aligning private financial flows to achieve Net Zero emissions, capital can be channeled into developing and emerging economies, countering the forces of fragmentation that this crisis threatens to unleash.