This content is brought to you in partnership with EMPEA.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that meeting all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will require between $5 trillion to $7 trillion in annual investment. But, without redirecting capital, the massive $2.5 trillion investment gap in developing countries could prove a major hurdle to successfully achieving these goals. 

EMPEA, a global industry association for advancing private capital in emerging markets, is calling on private investors to step up.

On Oct. 8 in London, EMPEA will host its annual Sustainable Investing in Emerging Markets Summit. The event will  enable private investors to network, collaborate and learn about investing in emerging and frontier markets using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework. 

Approximately 200 people are expected to attend this year, including institutional investors, fund managers, corporations, development specialists and industry advisors. They will provide an in-depth dive into sustainable investment strategies.

“With its 17 goals and 169 targets, there are certainly many investment opportunities represented by the SDGs,” EMPEA’s managing directors Holly Radel and Shannon Stroud told Karma. “The Summit’s program zeroes in and identifies those goals which require private sector participation, and where there is an intersection of impact and market-based returns.”

In 2018, the Summit explored how the Sustainable Development Goals enable investors and business leaders to tackle key, wide-ranging global issues, such as climate change and gender equity. This year, EMPEA will take a more granular approach by dissecting challenges and opportunities at the sector and portfolio company level. 

“There is a commercial case for impact investing and we have used the framework that the SDGs provide to highlight specific cases studies where the emerging markets private capital community has created sustainable economic change while creating value for companies and investors,” Radel and Stroud said.

Sessions will explore a variety of topics using companies and investors as case studies for success. 

Some key topics of this year’s Summit include navigation of impact measurement, optimization of the fund structure for purpose, and creation of inclusionary digital financial products. Through the lens of these topics, speakers will address which sectors, regions and business models have potential to create impact and strong returns, as well as which areas  will require further development before they become financially viable.

To take the discussion even deeper, the Summit will also host workshops focused on specific Sustainable Development Goals that present opportunities for generating impact and strong returns in developing regions. 

These workshops, developed by EMPEA in collaboration with its partners and speakers, will specifically focus on Renewable/Alternative Energy and Climate Change (Goals 6, 7 and 13), Food Production/Agriculture (Goal 2), Healthcare (Goal 3), Gender Parity and Financial Inclusion (Goal 5), Education (Goal 4) and Infrastructure (Goal 9).

“Dialogue and discussion, especially in smaller working groups such as the workshops, fosters an environment in which participants can share issues and challenges as well as identify concrete ways to overcome these hurdles on the path to create lasting sustainable development and impact,” Radel and Stroud said.

Sustainability & Operational Excellence Challenge

The day will conclude with EMPEA’s fourth annual Sustainability & Operational Excellence Challenge, which recognizes exceptional investments in emerging regions.

The challenge, which accepted submissions between June and August, asked fund managers to present a case study from their firm demonstrating value creation in an emerging market company. Three finalists, Actis, Barn Investimentos and Alta Semper, will present their cases at this year’s Sustainable Investing in Emerging Markets Summit. 

Following a keynote conversation between Matt Christensen, AXA Investment Managers’ global head of responsible investment, and Albright Stonebridge Group senior counselor Elizabeth Littlefield, audience members will vote for the firm they believe best exemplifies outstanding sustainable impact from an operational, environmental, social and governance perspective.

“We hope investors leave with a better understanding of best practices around investible objectives, measuring outcomes against the SDGs, and reporting on progress ultimately to create lasting impact, in addition to a better understanding of the investible objectives,” Radel and Stroud said. 

For more information on the Sustainability & Operational Excellence Challenge, the Sustainable Investing in Emerging Markets Summit or EMPEA, visit

EMPEA is a leading industry organization for private capital investing in the emerging markets and is a strategic partner of Karma.