New Delhi : The World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD) today published a paper co-authored with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Using Automated Text Mining to Align Investments to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Case Study Analyzing World Bank Projects. The paper presents the methodology SEI developed to map activities to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using World Bank-financed projects as a case study. This methodology is the result of a three-year collaboration made possible with the support of the World Bank Group’s SDG Partnership Fund and contributes to the World Bank’s effort to build models for transparency and disclosure to promote sustainable capital markets.
The SDGs are used by capital markets stakeholders as a reference framework to show the impacts of investments on global sustainable development. Disclosure on the links between the SDGs and investments can improve transparency on such efforts and potentially help channel funds to sustainable purposes. This paper also highlights the interconnected nature of the SDGs and the importance of interpreting results holistically.
“The private sector is essential for achieving the SDGs,” said Jorge Familiar, Vice President and Treasurer, World Bank. “This methodology for connecting activities to the SDGs makes an important contribution to the landscape of sustainable finance by enhancing the ability of capital market stakeholders to see and disclose the purpose and impact of their investment. We see the potential for this methodology to be adapted by other stakeholders based on their circumstances and scaled up and adapted to support the growing body of sustainability standards and reporting requirements.”
“The SDG Partnership Fund is proud to sponsor this important work to raise awareness of the role of the SDGs in supporting sustainable capital markets built around transparency and disclosure,” said Sheila Redzepi, Fund Chair and WBG Vice President for External and Corporate Relations.
“Achieving the SDGs will require increases in sustainable financing and investment across sectors and world regions,” said Måns Nilsson, Executive Director, SEI. “It is important that projects and activities lead to more environmental sustainability and secure livelihoods. We are proud of our work with the World Bank to help investors easily map and identify the impact they are having on SDG progress with their portfolios. We believe this type of information can be powerful to motivate increased resources and inform strategies, as well as priority setting. We stand ready to continue this work with interested parties and to keep refining the methodology developed.”
The paper describes the methodology in detail to help investors, issuers, and other market participants connect and examine how their activities are contributing to the SDGs and offers a step-by-step guide using a software that is free and downloadable. The methodology, which is based on a text mining software, the KH Coder, records the occurrence of predefined SDG keywords in large volumes of text –in this case from World Bank project documentation– and then maps projects to the SDGs.
As a test case, the methodology was applied to a sub-set of World Bank (IBRD) projects that were approved in fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) and highlighted the most recurrent SDGs and their targets. A subset of the mapping results was published in the World Bank Sustainable Development Bonds and Green Bonds Impact Report.
As the sustainable finance space evolves and new regulations and taxonomies require capital markets participants to show their alignment with these frameworks, new methodologies, and technologies such as those showcased in this paper may offer opportunities to help meet the growing sustainability reporting requirements and contribute to building more sustainable capital markets.
World Bank bonds support the financing of a combination of green and social, i.e., “sustainable development” projects, programs, and activities in IBRD member countries as described in the World Bank Sustainable Development Bond Framework. World Bank bonds support the financing of programs that further the SDGs and are aligned with the Sustainability Bond Guidelines published by the International Capital Market Association. The World Bank is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Green Bond, Social Bond, and Sustainability Bond Principles. A key priority for the World Bank’s capital markets’ engagement is building strategic partnerships with investors to promote the importance of private sector financing in sustainable development. The World Bank’s Sustainable Development Bond Impact Report describes how the World Bank engages with investors on the SDGs and raises awareness for specific development challenges.
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