UN-Scottish Government programme to fund ethical projects

Achim Steiner said: 'Our goal is to explore and test new ways of channeling finance to focus on inclusive, nature-based SMEs'. Picture: UNDP / Andrew Hein
Achim Steiner said: 'Our goal is to explore and test new ways of channeling finance to focus on inclusive, nature-based SMEs'. Picture: UNDP / Andrew Hein
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The Scottish Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are each committing £400,000 funding as part of a scheme to finance “inclusive, nature-based” SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).

The collaborative two-year programme aims to develop innovative financial structures which support projects aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it was announced at the Ethical Finance 2018 Conference in Edinburgh this week.

Adopted by the UN in 2015, the SDGs are designed to address global economic, social, governance and environmental challenges. Scotland is among 193 countries which have since signed up.

The global programme will address “an urgent need” to move from grant-dependent or charity-dependent financing models towards “self-sufficient business enterprise”.

Heriot-Watt University has announced it will co-develop a course on entrepreneurship through the Edinburgh Business School, where the programme office will be based. UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said: “Our goal in this partnership is to explore and test new ways of channeling finance to focus on inclusive, nature-based SMEs.

“Inclusive investments target those who have had difficulty gaining access to finance – small farmers, fishers, forestry and eco-toursim enterprises. Nature-based investments achieve triple wins for people, planet and prosperity.”

Meanwhile, the Ethical Finance 2018 Conference, which convened 300 experts, has also seen the Church of Scotland and the Islamic Finance Council UK unveil The Edinburgh Finance Declaration.

The document aims to help foster financial products that support an ethical economy.