The vast scope of economic, social and environmental targets set out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires enormous investment. By and large, current investment growth levels are failing to make a significant dent in estimated financing gaps to attain these targets. The beginning of the next “decade of action” (2020–2030) to push for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been marked by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impacts to the global economy. The impact on SDG financing and investment can be substantial, as the public and private investment needs in SDG sectors are likely to become more important, while flows to developing countries have decreased, public budgets across the world are under strain, and an economic recovery may take years to come. At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted that investing in the SDGs, including in resilient health and agriculture value chains, is now more relevant than ever. As countries respond to the health crisis and manage the consequences of the shock to the economy, many are re-evaluating their national investment priorities and strategies, and looking at ways to reposition their countries as attractive investment destinations. Diplomats could play an important role in this endeavour by supporting efforts to promote and facilitate investment in their countries, including in SDG-related sectors. Among the numerous challenges to mobilize private investment at a scale needed to reach the Goals, there is insufficient promotion and facilitation of SDG projects by countries. This contributes to information asymmetries, resulting in a situation where potential SDG investors are unable to identify bankable sustainable development projects, particularly in low-income countries.

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