SDG Investment Trends Monitor: International SDG investment flows to developing economies down by one third due to COVID-19


December 15, 2020


  • International private sector investment flows to developing and transition economies in
    sectors relevant for the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are on course to fall by
    about one third in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first three quarters of
    the year, the value of newly announced greenfield investments shrunk by 40% and that
    of international project finance (used for large infrastructure projects requiring multiple
    investors) by 15%.
  • Except for renewable energy, where growth in new projects continued but was cut to one
    third of the pre-COVID level, investment activity fell sharply across all SDG sectors. In
    infrastructure and infrastructure industries (including utilities and telecom) international
    project finance announcements were 62% lower in value. Greenfield project values
    across food and agriculture, water and sanitation, health and education were all one to
    two thirds lower than in 2019 (table 1).
  • The decline in SDG-relevant investment was much larger in developing and transition
    economies than in developed countries. This in contrast with the impact of the pandemic
    on overall foreign direct investment (FDI), where a 21% decline in developing and
    transition economies in the first half of 2020 was overshadowed by a 75% drop 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 public support packages
    in developed countries will have on global SDG investment trends.