Dear Colleagues,
I am pleased to share with you an update of UNCTAD’s SDG Investment Trends Monitor on the impact of COVID-19 on international private sector investment in SDG sectors. The Monitor – published on the occasion of the Financing for Development Forum (12-15 April 2021) – provides full-year 2020 data on FDI, greenfield and project finance investments in infrastructure, renewables, WASH, food and agriculture, health and education.
Key findings include:                                                         

  • International private sector investment flows to developing countries in SDG sectors fell by one third in 2020 because of COVID-19. The value of newly announced greenfield investments shrunk by 33% and that of international project finance (used for large infrastructure projects) by 36%.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is putting progress in promoting SDG investment at risk. It has more than undone the gains since 2015 – the year the SDGs were adopted. SDG-relevant greenfield investment in developing and transition economies is now almost 20% lower than before 2015, international project finance more than 30% lower.
  • Except for renewable energy, where growth in new projects continued but was cut to a fraction of its pre-COVID rate, investment activity fell sharply across all SDG sectors. In infrastructure, international project finance announcements were 60% lower in value. Greenfield project values across food and agriculture, WASH, health and education were all one to two thirds lower than in 2019.
  • The decline in SDG-relevant investment was much larger in developing than in developed countries. In the latter group, gains in investment in renewable energy and digital infrastructure are a first sign of the asymmetric effect that large-scale public support packages in developed countries will have on global SDG investment trends.

UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2021, scheduled for launch in June, will provide further data on SDG investment and financing trends. It will also investigate the potential impact on SDG investment of public recovery support efforts around the world.

Best regards,
James X. Zhan
Director, Investment and Enterprise
United Nations Conference on Trade & Development
Palais des Nations, Geneva


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