The United Nations’ (UN) Social Impact Investing Initiative, which works towards implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has opened a new office in Helsinki.
Impact investing refers to the practice of investing in companies or initiatives which will have a demonstrable social impact. The Social Impact Investing Initiative (S3I), an arm of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), will operate out of an office in Sofia Future Farm in Central Helsinki. It will act as a project developer for major infrastructure developments in the healthcare, housing and renewable energy sectors; performing the dual functions of attracting private funding and supporting projects in boosting their suitability for investment.
Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari said: “Bringing public and private financing together will provide a new channel for managing the developing country risks and will enable a greater social impact. Public financing will also mobilize private finance for promoting sustainable development. [The Social Impact Investing Initiative] office in Helsinki will also assist in building sustainable growth and in establishing new areas of expertise in Finland.”
Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki, said: “The city is part of this process of enabling UNOPS to move its Social Impact Investing Initiative operations; and in this concrete way we want to foster the image of Helsinki as a city that is internationally networked and provides a great operating environment for global organisations. The S3I initiative is of global importance and also supports Helsinki’s goal of a more significant role for cities in implementing the sustainable development goals.”
The UN already retained a significant presence in Finland before the establishment of the Social Impact Investing Initiative office, with the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research based in Helsinki and the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs based in the nearby town of Otaniemi, Espoo. Earlier this year Helsinki became the first city in the EU to deliver to the UN a comprehensive report on its progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.