Shortlisted country proposals
Preparatory Funding provided to UN Country Teams
Total grants requested across the 28 proposals
Estimated leverage potential of all 28 proposals

The Joint SDG Fund showcases its role in SDG Financing

Supporting key initiatives that can leverage public and private financing to advance the SDGs. From Rhetoric to Reality features Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Barbados, David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group, Emmanuel Roman, Chief Executive Officer, PIMCO and more.


While many challenges, and uncertainties, remain with the COVID-19 pandemic, what is clear is that if the world is to “build forward better” – and get back on a trajectory towards the SDGs – we need to get the right policies in place and mobilize the financing required to bring them to scale as soon as possible. In order to usher in a more sustainable, equitable and greener world, public and private capital will need to reach people, geographies and economies that need it the most.

COVID-19 has laid bare, and continues to exacerbate, deep inequalities and injustices while recent global warming data shows that the world is on track for continued devastating climate disruption. In response, many governments and increasingly key financial players are calling for more ambitious action and demanding a stronger integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the world’s compass for a sustainable word – into public and private investment decisions. Despite such calls, progress is slow. Private saving and investing are still not channeled towards sustainable development at the scale and speed required. Bottlenecks persist while a gap remains between vision and investor-activism and robust investment pipelines, financial capitalisation and execution capacity. Yet we also know that we have only just begun to connect real country-level demand with innovative financing solutions. The UN system, through the Joint SDG Fund, is committed to building bridges and forging partnerships that can help unlock capital for the SDGs.

The UN Joint SDG Fund provides catalytic grants to unblock SDG investment opportunities to accelerate countries toward the SDGs.  Grants are provided to countries to demonstrate investment concepts while support is provided by a consortia of UN agencies, development banks and public and private investors. In addition to financial support, the UN supports the development of the enabling environment for more effective SDG investment at country level while empowering national political and business leadership to drive the agenda. Through UN country teams and partners in country, our grants support financial and political de-risking. We also provide parallel funding to support creation of the wider policy and legislative ecosystem for investments and provide technical assistance.

Our partners will manage and capitalise impact funds, issue thematic bonds, co-manage enterprise innovations and challenge funds. They will run accelerators for impact enterprises. We will blend these investments with smart public subsidies, serving as a buffer to de-risk the investments, and to introduce novel SDG-aligned financial products.

The Fund received proposals to craft or enhance blended financing schemes and deals from over 100 developing countries, some among the poorest and most vulnerable to climate change.  These proposals are in the concept-development stage. Convergence Blended Finance, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Transform Finance, and the OECD, led the selection of the ideas considered most likely to become future-proof transactions. They were selected on the basis of the impact they aimed to achieve, the leverage they sought to obtain, the partners already  joined in the effort, the innovation brought forth to be taken to scale and the operational capacity they showed.  These 28 proposals were awarded preparatory funding up to US$200,000 and four months to nurture and expand from an initial concept to a fleshed-out proposal. The ongoing due diligence process of the Fund will decide where to invest, up to US$10 million per country, over the next 4-5 years.


Resilient Infrastructure

This cluster scopes, innovates and adapts financing solutions that leverage public and private resources for resilient infrastructure. Resilient infrastructure establishes or upgrades water systems, waste management, technology upgrades, renewable energy systems and circular economy solutions.

Resilient infrastructure is not only about building roads or bridges or power plants, but it also addresses the fundamental needs of people, enabling them to live a dignified life. Infrastructure faces increasing risks from natural disasters and a changing climate, leading to systemic failures that result in people being unable to go to work or receive timely medical care or education. These disruptions caused by natural and man-made hazards, as well as poor maintenance and mismanagement of infrastructure, cost at least USD $390 billion a year in low- and middle-income economies.

The need to adapt and invest in resilience is an urgent priority. On average, the net benefit of investing in resilient infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries would be $4.2 trillion with $4 in benefit for each $1 invested. Investments in resilient infrastructure systems are only possible if the right financing is made available at the right time. 

People and Health

This cluster scopes, innovates and adapts financing solutions that leverage public and private resources for people and health. These include Innovative concepts that promote women entrepreneurship, and access to health and economic opportunities for communities and vulnerable groups.

The effects of the pandemic hit all developing countries, but specific characteristics make some countries more vulnerable than others. The World Health Organization recognized that the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age significantly shape and affect their health. To achieve the 2030 Agenda, governments need to accelerate economic development in a way that will allow better access to healthcare and other basic services. To ensure people stay healthy, it is essential to address the social determinants of health and empower vulnerable groups from minorities to adolescents and women.

Access to essential services for vulnerable groups, and particularly women, can be facilitated through solutions that promote entrepreneurship and self-empowerment. Improvements in health security can be achieved by strengthening core public health functions, but also by smartly investing in systems that cater to preparedness and response, as well as innovative approaches (like telemedicine and digital access, energy-efficient vaccine cold chains, to name a few).

Agriculture and Food Security

This cluster scopes, innovates and adapts financing solutions that leverage public and private resources for agricultural systems and enhanced food security. These include microcredit and microinsurance, downscaling schemes from multilateral development banks, and a variety of blended finance facilities supporting agricultural supply chains, smallholder farmers, rural development, nutrition, and sustainable farming transitions.

With rapid economic growth and increased agricultural productivity, the number of undernourished people has dropped by almost half in the new Millenium. However, after years of steady decline in malnutrition, numbers are on the rise once again. Current estimates show that nearly 9 percent of the world population is still hungry. The impacts of climate change and conflicts take an even higher toll - resulting in an estimated 135 million people suffering from acute hunger. The COVID-19 pandemic could almost double that number, adding 130 million more people at the risk of suffering acute hunger by the end of 2020.

“Persistent and chronic hunger is the result of poverty, inequality, conflict, poor governance and marginalization of the most vulnerable,” - Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. Poverty is deeply intertwined with successes or failures in agriculture and food security, with the majority of the rural poor depending on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods. Yet, because they lack the resources or knowledge to invest, they cannot benefit from new technologies or access to markets that would boost their income and resilience. We need solutions that transition agriculture into something that can be a part of a new, sustainable future. Still “... we have enough wealth in the world to feed everybody” - WFP Chief David Beasley.

Natural Ecosystems and Climate Action

This cluster scopes, innovates and adapts financing solutions that leverage public and private resources for natural ecosystems and climate action. These include green financing solutions, from lending and impact investing to insurance and smart public subsidies, addressing climate mitigation and resilience, terrestrial ecosystems, and air pollution.

The world’s growing global population demands more food, fuel, fiber, and feed. This demand drives the expansion of industrial-scale agriculture, infrastructure and extractive industries, resulting in massive deforestation, conflicts over land, overfishing, and human rights violations. Investment in fossil fuels continues to be higher than investment in climate action at a scale of about USD $100 billion. Financing that promotes deforestation outpaces funding for forests by 40 to 1, according to the Climate and Land Use Alliance. With the appropriate financing and investing, and backed by the right policies and practices, the world could protect nature and mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

Since the 1880s, the average global temperature has risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius, driving substantial physical impact around the world with unknown severity and frequency. Global temperatures are projected to rise by up to 3.2°C by 2100, which is only 80 years away. With average temperatures on the rise, catastrophic hazards including heat waves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels will only intensify. These risks pose the largest socioeconomic risk. Combatting these risks requires policy makers and business leaders to collaborate and catalyze investment. Already, global markets for climate-smart businesses and technologies have expanded at the pace of USD  $1 trillion annually. IFC shows 21 emerging market economies promise USD $23 trillion in climate-smart investment opportunities through 2030.

Blue Economy

This cluster scopes, innovates and adapts financing solutions that leverage public and private resources for the blue economy. Blue financing solutions are adapted to the needs of island nations and coastal communities to preserve marine resources and coral reefs while offering income opportunities to coastal populations.

Oceans are getting warmer, stormier and more acidic, impacting the health of sensitive marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs. Changes to the ocean’s temperature, chemistry, flow and food webs have broad implications for the global economy. The monetary value of the world’s oceans has been estimated at US$24 trillion by the World Wide Fund for Nature. This wealth is at risk because overfishing, pollution and climate change put an unprecedented strain upon marine ecosystems. 

While some countries are set to maintain or improve catch and profits, others around the world who rely on healthy oceans and marine resources will see decreases in fishing, food and prosperity. Ocean reefs contribute to the livelihoods of at least 500 million people worldwide, mostly in less-developed economies, generating US$36 billion per year for the global tourism industry. Coral reefs are home to some of the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems. They provide vital protection from coastal flooding and storm surges. Investing in scalable businesses that build resilience in coastal ecosystems and create jobs not only allow us to save our planet, but also to build more resilient economies.


A total of 28 concept notes were shortlisted and awarded with preparatory funding.