New Economist Impact report supported by AVPN offers 10 social investment principles to bridge SDG funding gaps in Asia

June 21, 2022


New Economist Impact report supported by AVPN offers 10 social investment principles to bridge SDG funding gaps in Asia
Key takeaways
  • Most countries in the Asia-Pacific are not on track to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.
  • Substantial funding gaps exist across multiple SDGs, particularly for the SDGs on food security, health, energy, water & sanitation and climate action.
  • A multitude of actors like philanthropic foundations, corporations, financial institutions, impact funds, intermediaries and impact organisations such as non-profits and social enterprises can help bridge this investment gap.
  • Social investment, defined as capital that aims to create or amplify social impact alongside potential financial returns, can be utilised to achieve the common goal of contributing to sustainable development.
, a new report from Economist Impact, supported by AVPN, the largest social investment network in Asia,  offers 10 principles of social investment. For social investors looking to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Impact Standards developed by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in their work, the principles can serve as an accessible pathway to provide direction. Mapped across the life-cycle of a project, these are broad, high-level principles that work for investments encompassing the SDGs, with specific examples from areas of healthcare, gender, livelihoods and climate in the Asia-Pacific region.

The principles are based on an extensive literature review and in-depth interviews with a range of experts from philanthropies, foundations, private companies & investors, multilateral networks and academia.

The principles are mapped across the following five stages of a project life-cycle: pre-investment, investment planning, implementation, completion and post-completion. At the pre-investment stage, the research recommends social investors to: (1) collaborate with intermediaries and partners to design an ecosystem that drives change, (2) not reinvent the wheel and utilise existing research to make the leap of faith that is necessary for social investment decision but invest in research in areas where appropriate research or experience is lacking.

At the investment stage, investors can prioritise investments that deliver multiple impacts while also providing knowledge and capacity building to ensure that best team is in place for smooth implementation. Investors need to be mindful of impact goals during project planning and should map these backwards to identify necessary preconditions and intermediate outcomes of the project. The research also finds that projects that simultaneously provide access and information as well as address behaviour issues are more likely to translate into genuine benefits. At the implementation stage, engaging a local partner can be a meaningful step. Localisation helps ensure that the local context is compatible with factors essential to project success.

At the completion stage, the research recommends trusting the grantee with project implementation and providing them flexibility. Reviews and evaluations must aim to identify the best practices and things to be improved upon. Investors should measure impact and take responsibility for it, but should not be driven entirely by meeting arbitrary quantitative standards. It’s important to decouple impact from quantifiable outputs as qualitative impact, though not easily measurable, is equally important. At the post-completion stage, investors should ensure responsible closure. For handovers, ascertain continuity of resources, networks and knowledge to make the transition smooth during project closure.

Pooja Chaudhary, Senior Manager, Policy and Insights, Asia-Pacific at Economist Impact and editor of the report, says: “Social investment in Asia is not a new concept, but given the increasing funding gaps to achieve the 2030 SDG agenda, it’s more critical than ever to channelise social capital and integrate best practices in social investment decisions to achieve optimal outcomes.”

Press enquiries
Jenny Lu
Assistant Marketing Manager, Content Solutions, Asia, Economist Impact

+852 2585 3843

About Economist Impact

Economist Impact combines the rigour of a think-tank with the creativity of a media brand to engage a globally influential audience. We believe that evidence-based insights can open debate, broaden perspectives and catalyse progress. The services offered by Economist Impact previously existed within The Economist Group as separate entities, including EIU Thought Leadership, EIU Public Policy, EIU Health Policy, Economist Events, EBrandConnect and SignalNoise.
We are building on a 75 year track record of analysis across 205 countries. Along with framework design, benchmarking, economic and social impact analysis, forecasting and scenario modelling, we provide creative storytelling, events expertise, design-thinking solutions and market-leading media products, making Economist Impact uniquely positioned to deliver measurable outcomes to our clients. Follow us on , and 

About AVPN

AVPN is the world's largest network of Social Investors in Asia, with over 600+ diverse members across 33 markets. Their mission is to close the SDG gaps in Asia, by enabling their members to increase the flow of financial, human, and intellectual capital towards impact. Through sharing knowledge and innovating collaborations between policy makers, family offices, foundations and the private sector, AVPN improves the effectiveness of capital deployed; bringing to bear the local field needs, regional expertise, and policy insights. As organisers of the AVPN Global conference—the world's largest networking event for Social Investors in Asia—their focus is to put Asian voices at the forefront of global discourse; with the output of the convening to be added to the main agenda of the upcoming G20. The event is also leveraged by the Social Investor ecosystem to form and announce new partnerships, innovate catalytic funding vehicles, and share best practices that ultimately move more capital towards impact.

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