SDG Impact Standards for Bond Issuers

About the Standards

Enterprises and investors increasingly recognize that sustainable development is at the core of long-term value creation but are not yet systematically integrating sustainability and impact considerations in their decision-making. SDG Impact aims to help make this process easier through SDG Impact Standards.

The SDG Impact Standards are practice standards, revolving around internal decision-making, designed to transform how enterprises and investors think about value creation, and integrate impact management and contributing positively to the SDGs in their strategy, management approach, disclosure, and governance practices. Grounded in existing principles, standards and market best practices, the Standards provide context for applying other tools and frameworks, including metrics, taxonomies, and reporting frameworks.

In addition to the Standards for Bond Issuers, SDG Impact is developing Standards for Private Equity Funds. and Standards for Enterprises and SDG Impact also collaborated with the OECD in the development of Impact Standards for Financing Sustainable Development (IS-FSD).

About SDG Impact Standards for Bonds Issuers

UNDP is pleased to release Version 1.0 of the SDG Impact Standards for Bond Issuers, following two rounds of public consultation. We are thankful that so many individuals and organizations took the time for thoughtful reflection and comment through the development of the SDG Impact Standards for Bond Issuers and on both rounds of public consultation. This has had a significant influence on the Standards. Thank you.

The Standards are provided for all Bond Issuers – regardless of size, geography or sector – who want to contribute positively to sustainable development and the SDGs. This includes sovereigns (and sub-sovereigns such as states, provinces, cities, towns or municipalities), supra-nationals and government entities, as well as companies, financial institutions and special purpose entities backed by activities, assets or projects (e.g. securitizations, infrastructure). The Standards apply equally to Issuers raising capital for their own use and those raising capital for third party obligors, through both bond and loan programs.

The Standards set out an internal decision-making framework to help Bond Issuers develop and implement an impact strategy to contribute positively to sustainable development in line with the SDGs and link that impact strategy to the SDG Bond Program and the Issuer’s organization-wide strategy. Within the scope of the defined impact strategy, the Standards help Bond Issuers direct attention and resources to where they can optimize their SDG contribution by focusing on all material positive and negative impacts. Embedding the Standards into management decision-making will strengthen impact performance and facilitate higher quality and more consistent disclosures.

The foundational elements of the Standards are:

About the Standards for Private Equity Funds

Standard 1 (Strategy): Embedding foundational elements into purpose and strategy

Standard 2 (Management Approach): Integrating foundational elements into operations and management approach

Standard 3 (Transparency): Disclosing how foundational elements are integrated into purpose, strategy, management approach and governance, and reporting on performance

Standard 4 (Governance): Reinforcing commitment to foundational elements through governance practices

Download the Standards

Download About the SDG Impact Standards

Download the SDG Impact Standards for Bonds version 1.0

Download the SDG Impact Standards for Bonds version 1.0 in Mandarin Chinese

Download the SDG Impact Self-assessment tool for Bond Issuers

Download the Glossary

Download the FAQs

Download the response to the most recent consultation input

Download the mapping to the UNGC CFO Principles

Public Consultation

The consultation process meets the process required for UNDP Principles for social and environmental standards. The SDG Impact Standards for Bond Issuers have undergone two rounds of public consultation. The first consultation period was between April and July of 2020 and the second was during the November 2020 and January 2021. We thank everyone who submitted feedback.

A public report documenting the feedback received during SDG Impact’s response to the second consultation can be found here.

How the Standards work with other principles, tools and frameworks

The Standards are grounded in existing principles, standards and market best practices, and provide context for applying other tools and frameworks, including metrics, taxonomies and reporting frameworks.

SDG Impact Standards – transforming decision-making to deliver the SDGs

How the Standards work with other principles

A mapping document illustrating how UNGC CFO Principles map to the SDG Impact Standards for Bonds Issuers (and Enterprises) can be found here.

Ways to use the Standards

Voluntary independent use

The Standards are provided to Bond Issuers as a ‘best practice’ guide to help them align their internal processes to integrate impact management into decision-making. Bond Issuers are encouraged to use the Standards in their entirety as a gap analysis and self-assessment tool, and to fill gaps and improve practice over time.

Assurance protocols and SDG Impact Seal

An external assurance framework and SDG Impact Seal are being developed in tandem with the Standards. Bond Issuers are highly recommended to move from self-assessment to having their impact management practices assured at regular intervals by an independent accredited assurer.

Complementary resources

UNDP is complementing the SDG Impact Standards with additional resources, including a glossary, guidance notes, online training on impact management being developed through CASE at Duke University, and assurer training (being developed through Social Value International). An accreditation process will build additional capacity, capability, and consistency within the assurance community.

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