At the Intersection of Finance and Development

UNDP launches a new e-Learning Programme aimed at sharing its Sustainable Finance expertise with practitioners around the world

Back in 2021, the world began its slow recovery from the economic toll of the Covid-19 pandemic with the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals less than ten years away and progress way off track. According to the 2021 United Nations SDG Report, 2020 saw between 119 and 124 million people pushed back into poverty – the first rise in extreme poverty in a generation. This report projected that in 2030, instead of ‘no poverty’ as elaborated in SDG 1, the global poverty rate would be 7 percent.

At UNDP and other development agencies, there was a realization that their limited budgets would not be sufficient to solve complex development challenges. Donor governments, focused on national recovery efforts from Covid-19, did not have the capital to boost Official Development Assistance (ODA) in order to get the SDGs back on track (ODA was flat in 2021 according to OECD data, at 0.33 percent of gross national income; the UN target is 0.7 percent).

UNDP and its partners started to rethink how to achieve the scale of impact needed to deliver on the SDGs. We needed to shift from a focus on programme delivery to becoming a catalyst for positive action among a wide range of partners with national governments. In its Strategic Plan 2022-2025, UNDP elaborated the $1 trillion Moonshot – a goal for all stakeholders in leveraging public expenditures and private capital towards these goals.

A Groundswell of Support

In order to engage its 17,000-strong workforce in this effort – and a much higher number of national partners – the UNDP’s Sustainable Finance Hub (SFH) established the SDG Finance Academy to bring SFH’s sustainable finance expertise to UNDP country offices and governments (like Uruguay’s – leading to issuance of the country’s first SDG-aligned sovereign bond).

Awareness was growing among other stakeholder groups that to get the SDGs on track, everyone needs to understand how finance can be done differently. Private partners began to ask for support in strengthening sustainable finance capacities within their own institutions. Donors and financial institutions as well were eager to learn about how sustainable finance can be a vehicle for collective action towards the SDGs. Demand for the Academy soon outstripped the ability to deliver in-person training.

The e-Learning Programme: Bringing Sustainable Finance to all

To meet this rapidly expanding need, the Academy has developed an open-access e-Learning Programme that can be utilized by anyone with an Internet connection. Launching on 27 September, its initial ten learning modules mirror the Academy’s live training – introducing basic concepts followed by ‘deep dives’ in critical areas for achieving the SDGs. These include budgeting, taxation, thematic bonds and insurance for the SDGs, accessing capital for SDG investment, establishing SDG investment project pipelines, managing impact, designing Integrated National Financing Frameworks, and more.

The course catalogue will expand as UNDP’s services evolve, giving everyone the opportunity to connect sustainable finance to their own work.

“Sustainable finance is critical for all our efforts to achieve the SDGs”, said Marcos Neto, Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub. “We all need to understand where the funds are flowing and how they can be channeled to national SDG targets. By sharing our expertise with partners and colleagues worldwide, we want to empower them to join us in creating a sustainable finance architecture that works for all.”

As the deadline for achieving the SDGs draws even closer, collaboration among development and finance partners is more important than ever. The Academy’s next phase will expand opportunities for engagement and harmonization of support – creating a global community of practice in sustainable finance that further heightens the impact of development financing.

Visit for more information about the new e-Learning Programme, and on 10 October, join the SDG Integration CoP Conversation on how the Academy informs efforts by UNDP, governments, the private sector and others to finance SDG targets.