A New Framework for Meeting the SDGs by Investing in Access to Resources and Opportunity
Women worldwide spend an estimated 200 million hours a day gathering water, an unfathomable amount of time that could be spent in getting an education, earning money, or caring for children. Yet how do gender lens investors take into consideration the ways in which lack of access to water disproportionately affects women?
In this report, Cornerstone Capital Group introduces the Access Impact Framework, a method for demonstrating how the UN's Sustainable Development Goals intersect and affect one another, when approached in terms of access. Clean water, sanitation and hygiene (SDG 8) is one of seven “access themes” that Cornerstone identifies as closely aligned to SDG 5, which aims to achieve gender equality.
The Access to Impact framework maps a total of 11 themes across all 17 SDGs, with the idea that by facilitating the access required for individuals and societies to achieve the SDGs, investors can contribute toward the critical transformation of our social, environmental and economic systems. Examples of the themes include access to equal opportunity, to education, to healthcare, to financial services, to adequate housing, and to telecommunication systems.
The report also offers examples of the types of investments that align with the pursuit of access and the SDGs. Under water, for example, the report cites thematic equity funds focused on the environment, health and wellness, or water specifically, as well as green bonds that invest globally in organizations, companies and projects working to improve the environment, including water access and sanitation.
Cornerstone, which has a developed gender lens investing analysis strategy, describes how the Framework offers a version 2.0 of traditional gender lens analysis, which typically examines a more limited scope of company behaviors, such as diversity in company management. While these activities are clearly important, Cornerstone recognizes that systemic gender inequality, as well as other forms of inequality, will not be eliminated without additional efforts to tackle problems at their root, the report notes. The systems of oppression that keep gender inequality in place are multi-faceted and intersect with issues of race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical ability, sexual orientation, and geography, among others. Read an essay by Katherine Pease on this topic here.