AVPN Global Conference 2023 | 20 - 22 June 2023



A roadmap for social investing in Asia

In 2015, member countries of the United Nations committed to 17 goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that are intended as a blueprint for a better future for all. Some progress has been made since then. However, as the covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the global economy, achieving the SDGs by 2030 has become more challenging than ever.


Challenges on the road to the SDGs

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” by the year 2030.

Ambitious goals require ambitious financing. In 2014, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that the annual investment required to achieve the SDGs is US$3.9 trillion, which was more than double the financing provided at that time (US$1.4 trillion), leaving a gap of US$2.5 trillion (2015–2030).1

In 2021, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) increased this estimate by an additional US$1 trillion. However, as the need for funding increased, financing from external private resources reduced by US$0.7 trillion—expanding the SDG financing gap to US$4.2 trillion per year. In addition, COVID-19 had a specific impact on investment flows to sectors relevant for the SDGs in developing countries. All but one SDG registered a double-digit decline from pre-pandemic levels, thereby exacerbating declines in sectors that were already weak, such as power, food and agriculture, and health.2

In Asia-Pacific, not all countries are on track to achieve a significant number of SDGs.


A pathway to maximizing impact

As actors step in to bridge the funding gap, Economist Impact conducted an extensive literature review and interviews with experts to provide ten key principles of social investment. Mapped across the project life cycle and substantiated with specific examples from the fields of climate, gender, healthcare and livelihoods in APAC countries, these principles can serve as a guide to anyone interested in moving the region towards sustainable development with social investment.

Case Studies

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Key sections of the report

Aligning values and trust between corporates and social purpose organisations

Gaining an in-depth understanding of social issues and solutions

Designing strategic or collective impact towards a strong theory of change

Building internal capacities to support the development sector


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Straight from the experts

In complex problems where the need for stakeholders to collaborate is indispensable, philanthropies can create an enabling environment to bring together the ‘critical mass.
Deepali Khanna

Vice President at The Rockefeller Foundation

Impact cannot be an afterthought. People need to think about impact as seriously as they think about business itself. They need to set objectives, create strategies and define metrics for impact, because impact is a space as sophisticated as business.
Jasjit Singh

Professor of Strategy at INSEAD

Collaboration is talked about a lot, but for collaborations/multi-stakeholder partnerships to be successful, the incentives of different partners need to be aligned. This means what the partners do is actually part of their BAU (Business as Usual), something they can contribute to and get value out of, instead of something on the sidelines.
Yibin Chu

Head of Community Investing and Development for Asia Pacific at Citi


Share your insights

How does your organization apply the ten key principles for social investing in Asia? Tell us about your insights on accelerating impact.