Research (Capstone projects)

The Contribution of Big Global Banks to the SDGs

This report is a joint collaboration between a research group of The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and Symbiotics Group. It was conducted to provide a mapping of the banking industry engagement towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This research helps in understanding the role that banks have in closing the funding gap to attain the SDGs, the measures undertaken by these banks to do so, and the role that policy makers can play to facilitate banks’ contribution to the SDGs. The findings of this report were possible through a combination of an online survey, desk review, interviews, and case studies. The sixty banks that were included in this report have a market capitalisation above $100 billion, or assets under management above $100 billion; a presence in more than thirty countries through a head office or branch; and operate retail, investment or private banking and/or asset management activities. The banks in our sample size have an estimated total AUM of $112 trillion. This report does not include pension funds, investment management firms, insurance companies, development finance institutions or multilateral development banks. The analysis of the data collected has shown that economic growth (SDG8) and climate action (SDG13) are the most predominant SDGs that these sixty banks contribute to. We conclude that although banks have found certain aspects of the SDGs useful, for example helping all stakeholders to speak the same language, they are still too difficult to translate into quantitative corporate targets and as such this hinders greater SDG financing from banks. Lastly, the popularity around the SDGs but simultaneous lack of standardised impact indicators have created a space in which it is possible for banks to overstate their commitment to the SDGs.

Capstone projects
Organisation involved:
Francesca Jaworska
Master Student
Francesca Jaworska