Blog: Blending Capital for Peace

Written by Luc Lapointe, Regional Voice Lead, IMPACT 2030

Over the past few years, starting late 2013, the United Nations embarked in a new era of development known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – also known as the Global Goals. In the world of development there is always an interesting story – and this one is specific to the “Public SDGs or Private GGs?” One that started even before the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ended. For those who are not familiar with the MDGs, there is a good story about how they came about – no real science behind why the eight MDGs but it did get countries to focus on something – “The intellectual drivers of the MDG agenda wanted it to be simple enough that it could easily mobilize the will of political masters (Ruggie, 2001: 19).” Simple enough? Really!?

One of the most neglected MDGs was #8 – yes Global Partnership. Lots of article have been written about the success (or not) of the MDGs. Maybe this is probably the most difficult things to measure “success” – measuring out of poverty at $1.25 (or $2.00) is by no mean success if you live in poverty.

The argument is that MDG 8 (and now SDG #17) is about the “means” to achieve development. Its normative and empirical consequences are bound to raise important implications that other MDGs that are “ends” do not raise. Some analysts have offered well-thought views expressing that including the means in an MDG framework is a mistake. “Targets should focus on ultimate outcomes, not on the means by which to realize them” (Vandemoortele 2011, p. 18) – by definition:an action or system by which a result is brought about; a method!

Another good read “Global Partnerships should be linked to development goals”

I can make this story long but let’s get right to putting in context the title of this blog “Blending Capital for Peace”. This is where “means” and “end” come in to play. It’s important not to treat means as if they were ends or maybe!? Towards the end of the MDG era, under Canadian leadership appeared “Blended Finance”. Blended Finance is now seen as the most promising form of using “various sources of funding and instruments” to engage institutional investors and wealth funds into financing the 17 SDGs. Once again, maybe the focus on finance alone may take us on the wrong path to development.

Colombia is one of these interesting countries that is “stuck” in the development spectrum. For those of you who work in development, you will understand the Way countries are ranked in three large categories and sub-categories. I love development because if you take time to research you will see that there was (is) no real science behind this. I digress – It (Colombia) will soon a member of the exclusive OECD club of rich countries and at the same time suffers from high level of corruptions, decades of wars, one of the lowest productivity rate, high crimes, inequality, etc….but home to second highest biodiversity!

Over the past three years, I have the chance to visit some of the most beautiful places that Colombia offers as well as some of the areas that most people would prefer not to even know. Most recently, I hosted one of my colleague David Clemmons and we started to dive more deeply into the world of Blended Finance, Impact Investment, and Integrated Reporting/Thinking.

This is where we coined the idea of “Blending Capitals” —- but what comes to mind when you think about capital? Yes financial capital but interestingly enough, and most likely not new to most readers, there is a whole set of non-financial capitals that are as (or more) important than finance alone. You could throw all the money you want at development it’s bound to have an impact but is it really impactful unless you include human and social capital. Should you also had a little bit of cultural and natural capital? The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has done some interesting work on a set of six capitals that more than 1500 companies are now reporting on.

It’s also important to point to the work that IMPACT 2030 is doing when it comes to “human capital”. We recently launched the idea of Blending Capital and extremely happy to see that Chris Jarvis of Realized Worth has wasted no time to use the concept on a recent blog. The work that is being done around Impact Investment, Blended Finance, Integrated Reporting, and the SDGs; to name a few is extremely important for a new era of development. Who will it be? The private sector, NGOs, MANGOs, DONGOs, BINGOs, (no they are not the name of exotic fruits), MONGOs, financial institution? Let’s not fall for other decades of “Hands Off My Poor”!

Finance alone is not the answer to development. Human & Social Capital is KEY to effective and impactful finance.

Finally the world of development is also realizing that the complexities around integration of individual, often competing or conflicting, SDGs or their targets, needs for an understanding of the causal basis of the trade-offs, and mitigating unpreventable negative externalities they throw up will require significant shifts in policy planning.

“The Sustainable Development Goals and their trade-offs”

If we are serious about Peace in Colombia (or anywhere around the world), we will need to seriously think about non-financial capitals (human, social, natural, and others) to make it sustainable. We hope that with the leadership of IMPACT 2030’s partners, we can demonstrate a model that goes beyond finance.