On 25 September 2015, the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The sustainable development goals
The Agenda aims to realize a collective vision of where the world should be by 2030 and calls for action by all to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
Comprising the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 specific targets, the Agenda aims to end poverty, overcome inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change.
The preamble to the Agenda and Goals states that ‘no one will be left behind’ and that the aim is to ‘realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’. The SDGs are not legally binding, but governments are expected to take ownership of them and to establish national frameworks for their achievement.
Achieving the Goals is estimated to cost around $1.4tn (£ 920bn) each year so governments alone will not be able to foot the total bill. Increasingly, institutional and individual investors are being called to step up by incorporating impact goals into traditional asset allocation.
Oikocredit's alignment with the SDGs
Oikocredit has worked for decades in many of the areas that the Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to address. Our investing activities, and related social and environmental metrics and reporting, support the achievement of many of these SDGs through the partners we finance and the capacity-building activities we undertake. Our activities and reporting metrics align with five SDGs in particular.
SDG 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 1 aims to eliminate extreme poverty and to reduce by at least half the proportion of men, women and children in poverty. Its targets include:
- ensuring that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources and access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance;
- building the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.
What we do
Central to Oikocredit’s mission is to provide loans, capital and capacity building support to microfinance institutions (MFIs), cooperatives, fair trade organizations, and small to medium enterprises. Our funding helps low-income earners, including women and rural dwellers, improve their livelihoods while respecting the environment. Financial inclusion helps people progress out of poverty and better withstand difficulties and shocks, such as unforeseen health problems and medical expenses.
In 2014 Oikocredit’s environmental policy incorporated a provision for natural disaster management, mandating us to contribute to an increased level of disaster preparedness of our partners to meet recent and future challenges as a consequence of climate change.
SDG 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 2 aims to ensure year-round access by all people, in particular people living in poverty and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. It seeks, among other targets, to:
- double agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, especially women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment;
- ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, help maintain ecosystems, strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and progressively improve land and soil quality;
- increase investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development, and plant and livestock gene banks to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries.
What we do
Oikocredit has a strategic focus on agriculture, provides support for smallholder farmers and is a long-term partner of organic and fair trade producers. In many countries where we are active, poverty is predominantly a rural phenomenon. By supporting rural social enterprises, we not only promote sustainable agriculture but contribute directly to job security.
Financial services can help farmers increase production, helping enhance food security. Our agricultural strategy includes assisting small scale food producers through financing rural MFIs; lending to cooperatives and companies that process and market smallholder produce such as coffee, cocoa and cotton; making working capital available to agricultural partners to buy or rehabilitate land, purchase machinery or build infrastructure; extending the scope of pre-export financing; and providing rural partners with capacity building support.
SDG 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 5 aims to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere, eliminate gender-based violence and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, value unpaid care and domestic work, ensure women’s full and effective participation in political, economic and public life, and achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
Targets include reforms giving women equal rights to economic resources and access to ownership and control over land and other property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources.
What we do
The goal of gender equality and female empowerment is central to Oikocredit's social mission and values. Better access to financial services helps women direct household spending towards necessities such as food and water, child welfare and health care.
We support organizations that provide financial opportunities to disadvantaged people irrespective of faith, culture, age or gender. We have had a gender policy for nearly a decade, and half of our MFI partner organizations have a gender policy in place. We encourage partners to consistently harness the capacity of women, for example, by opening management positions and governance bodies to women’s participation.
Our investment criteria and environmental, social and governance (ESG) scorecard emphasize the importance of, and give preference to, the involvement of women in the management of partner organizations, organizations having a gender policy and women being among the beneficiaries of partners' activities.
SDG 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all
Goal 7 addresses the challenge of universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services and the need to substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
What we do
From a demand perspective, the financial inclusion that Oikocredit supports through its lending and investments helps low-income households access energy services. In terms of supply, in 2014 we established a renewable energy unit to actively identify and develop investment opportunities in renewables, clean energy and energy efficiency projects in low-income countries.
Financing renewable energy partners worldwide through innovative and long term equity and credit, the unit supports projects in solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, small hydropower, biomass and energy efficiency. We also finance small-scale distributed clean power generation projects, where electricity (or heat) is generated at the location where it is used.
SDG 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 8 aims for higher levels of economic productivity and seeks to promote development oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation and entrepreneurship; to encourage the growth of micro enterprises and SMEs, including through access to financial services; and to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Targets also include the eradication of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking; elimination of the worst forms of, and by 2025 of all, child labour; protection of labour rights; promotion of safe working environments; and strengthened capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services.
What we do
The access to financial institutions, products and services that Oikocredit enables through support for social enterprises, MFIs and co-operatives helps low-income people increase their income and contributes to inclusive economic development. Access to credit, in particular, allows partners’ clients to start businesses and enables micro enterprises and SMEs to expand, creating more job opportunities.
We finance a broad range of social enterprises in different sectors and provide capacity building support when partners’ needs are identified. We invest in value chain development and provide capacity building to enhance producers’ access to markets and pre-export financing for agro-processing cooperatives.
As a co-operative Oikocredit partners with many organizations that run along co-operative lines. A co-operative is usually member-owned, largely autonomous and geared to enabling people and communities to help themselves through economic activity.
Core co-operative principles and values include a voluntaristic and open membership basis, equal rights and mutual respect, democratic member control, empowerment and independence, collective action, information sharing, a commitment to education and training, and concern for community.